Inside Out (Australia)
Reinventing the breeze block Australian-style
The Australian designer has collaborated with Brickworks on an exciting reimagining of our beloved breeze block
How important was it to bring the breeze block into the
21st century while still remaining true to its iconic origins? Normally a breeze block has one extruded shape in a block, resulting in one pattern. My Kite Breeze block design has the ability for a user to create endless patterns from the one building block, and has a second layer of relief that works as a backdrop to capture shadow and light throughout the day. This perhaps represents an evolution in its use as it amplifies the importance of the breeze block as a functional architectural element.
What was the most complicated or interesting aspect of designing this new interpretation? My practice normally focuses on furniture [with projects for Tait furniture, Cult, Cappellini, Normann Copenhagen and others], so I am always delighted to work on projects outside the furniture realm. But to be honest, this project has not been unfamiliar as throughout my career I have always had a fascination with geometry, mathematics and repetition of pattern – all characteristics that were important for this project. The only real complication was production, which took longer than expected to resolve.
Why do you think breeze blocks have such an enduring legacy in Australian architecture? Breeze blocks were prominent in the Modernist houses of the 1950s and ’60s and I’ve always associated them with our quintessential indoor/outdoor Australian lifestyle. We live in a hot and windy country where most of the population clings to the coast. Breeze blocks offer an interplay with the natural environment so their enduring appeal is likely born out of this ability to interact with the elements that help define architectural settings.
How can the Kite Breeze block be incorporated into contemporary Australian design? What are your favourite ways to use the product? One of the most poetic aspects of breeze blocks is their ability to create ambience within architectural environments. By day, they diffuse light through their voids and cast geometric shadows, and by night they look like fragmented
lanterns. They become a constantly changing sculpture through their interplay with light, shadow and surface. Kite Breeze is a deliberate attempt to capture this expression while facilitating light and natural ventilation, plus I’ve tried to capture the functional aspects of the breeze block. It’s a naturally ventilating building brick that allows security and privacy. It’s decorative and sculptural while still being functional. And it has versatility, providing unlimited patterns and combinations [for designers] to explore and play with.
What was the most exciting aspect of your partnership with Brickworks and how did it come about? I received a message from Brickworks asking if I would be interested in collaborating on a project to design a breeze block. I feel privileged to be working with such a significant Australian company. Given their national and international reputation, I can’t wait to see the projects Kite is used in throughout Australia and the world.
Discover more at australmasonry.com.au/product/kite-breeze
“BY DAY, BREEZE BLOCKS CAST GEOMETRIC SHADOWS; BY NIGHT, THEY LOOK LIKE FRAGMENTED LANTERNS”