Grand Designs Australia

South Melbourne Brick House

Resident architecture expert, David Hallett from Ask An Architect, gives us his opinion on the South Melbourne Brick property from Episode 2, Season 4 of Grand Designs Australia.

Most new homes are selected from catalogues and ‘assembled’ on site these days.

Wall and roof frames are factory-fabricated and delivered to site for connection; doors arrive pre-hung; trims are pre-primed and the kitchen is pre-constructed. Most of our furniture is mass-produced...or flat-packed for hours of DIY fun!

Standardization enables mass-production which creates economies of scale that keep costs and build times down. It’s not new – Henry Ford pioneered the assembly-line over 100 years ago – and I get it, but there’s little joy in ubiquity.

Great buildings don’t just work well and stand strongly. Great buildings evoke emotions of comfort, wonder and delight.

Greg and Emma’s home is full of joy...a hand-wrought, character-filled cocoon that oozes real charm and reflects their personality in every detail. Greg’s enthusiasm for ‘making’ this building is infectious – for hand-glazing the bricks, for experimenting with concrete finishes, for creating furniture from old form-work and for reincarnating discarded materials. His innovative copper patination technique will stay with me for years and the bull-nosed brick ventilation screen is genius!

Credit must go to Emma’s parents whose support has enabled the creation of a lovely building. Son Archie’s influence is also evident in the ‘secret’ cubby and the spiral staircase that entwines the three generations like a family tree. I hope the inter-generational living arrangement works, not just because it might be a prototype for future family living, but because I’d hate to see them leave their new home.

This house is a labour of love...a love of family and of making a home for them. I’m reminded of the words of English art critic John Ruskin, who in 1849 commended architects to “...think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone; let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labour and wrought substance of them, ‘See! This our fathers did for us.’”

Archie, this your father has done for you...and for all of us.

Visit Ask An Architect for more information.

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