Back on the block: breeze blocks are the hottest new thing in office design
Breeze blocks are back in fashion … and they’re being used in often surprising (and gorgeous) ways in office design.
It’s time to welcome back the breeze block. No longer relegated to beachy Gold Coast motels or suburban bungalows, its almost ethereal beauty is once again lauded. Bolstered by contemporary new designs, sizes and colours, as well as their durability and playful use of light and shade, the blocks have been embraced by architects and interior designers alike.
Ubiquitous in the 1950s and ’60s, breeze blocks became synonymous with the modish, mid-century aesthetics of Palm Springs bungalows, but their application was much more far-reaching, as they were heavily used in warm climate locales around the world and widely adopted in Australia.
A renewed appreciation for this material is again seeing homes designed with breeze block feature façades and walls. But their use hasn’t been confined solely to residential projects. So complete is this newfound love for the blocks that they’re even being incorporated into hospitality, retail and office builds.
“Residential architecture does seem to be where the new perspective on breeze blocks began, but commercial applications are really pushing the limits of what can be achieved with them,” says Brickworks’ Communications Manager – Masonry, Precast and SBS, Michael Monro.
Monro partly attributes the popularity of the blocks to a movement towards strong, trusted, heavyweight building materials, but there’s no denying their alluring graphic qualities also play a part, evident in hospitality projects such as Sebastian Beach Grill in Williamstown, Victoria, and Helm bar in Fremantle, Western Australia.
It’s the blocks’ ability to partially screen that has prompted architects to incorporate them into office designs, creating breakout spaces that are both semi-private and open. An exceptional example is Hall Chadwick’s Brisbane office fit-out, where the brief was to reference a western Queensland aesthetic. Here, a breeze block wall playfully provides a partition that still allows for connectedness within the office.
“It’s hard not to love the breeze block – its distinct Australian outdoor style proffers nostalgic, mid-century modern appeal,” says Melissa Marsden of Comuniti, the design firm responsible for the fit-out. “Widely used in western Queensland, in turn they are used to great effect in Hall Chadwick’s new workspace.”
Breeze blocks have also been applied as a screen in Make Ventures’ new Melbourne workspace by architecture firm Tecture. Incorporating the blocks in a non-traditional way, by bringing them into the office space and out of their usual context to stunning effect, yields a result which, combined with blond plywood and modernist furniture, showcases a fresh and bright renewal of mid-century style.
This iconic product may not be new, but its beautiful, geometric play on light and shade, its value as a screen, and its durability as a building material are being appreciated and applied in novel and vastly varied ways. Recently, GB Masonry has added two new shapes to their product range, Flower Breeze and Cloud Breeze, opening up further opportunities to play with shape and light.