When the new build on the block, looks like the oldest building on the laneway.

What is this?

Brickface is a compact building situated at the rear of an existing house in Richmond,  Melbourne. It consists of a garage at ground level, studio living/guest suite at first floor, and a roof deck accessed by a sculptural spiral staircase. A new pool and entertaining space extends the home’s entertaining area, while the roof terrace becomes the missing productive garden.  The main living area of the existing house faces south and opens up onto the new terrace and pool. The backdrop to this view is the rising high wall of Brickface.

The laneway

Brickface sits hard up to the laneway on two sides, in a corner position. The building terminates a row of garage doors and newer outbuildings that tumble down the hill. Built from recycled brick, the structure is a solid and secure bookend that presents a character that looks to have existed well before the other buildings along the lane.

Shadows and the sculptural form

Brickface is constructed of recycled red brick, interspersed with contrasting red and blue glazed bricks from the PGH Vibrant range (Rhapsody and Watermelon) to introduce light & shadow, pattern and colour. The round windows of the building and the sculptural form of the parapet combine with the character of the recycled brick to soften the solid block. The spiral stair adds further sculptural interest.

New place, new space

The clients asked for a new building at the end of their rear yard. The previous garage, with studio above, was large – it dominated the garden and compromised their outdoor space. The new building, though taller, is smaller, tighter and more efficient. It minimises its footprint to maximise the rear yard.

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Blue blue electric blue

To separate the private studio space from the garage below and the roof terrace above, the room has been painted blue throughout – walls, ceilings and skirtings. The cohesive use of colour unifies the room and draws a domestic scale to the studio: using colour to provide contrast and signify a change in function.

The studio design and specifically the colour, provide a contrast to the surrounding gritty laneway and industrial brick facade. The owners wanted a space that would be calm and playful despite its ‘seedy laneway’ location.  Thestudio/guest suite also serves as both a reminder and as a connection to the new outdoor pool area, despite it being hidden away behind the towering brick fort.  The owners expressed a desire to create a resort style garden and Miami beach feel studio, to escape from the bustle and stresses of a busy inner-city suburb.  The use of a uniform bright colour, along with the large porthole windows creates the sense of a fantasy bubble.  The result is a sophisticated yet very playful escape.

A generation living in laneways?

Melbourne’s property market is so inflated, that we’re now seeing a generation that are not only unable to buy a home, but also struggling to find affordable places to rent close to their work, school and community. Melbourne does have one trick up its sleeve that many parents are increasingly exploring. Melbourne is strewn with under-utilised laneways and many home owners are creating a second residence in their backyard with frontage to the laneway, where their adult children can live during university and early employment. These second residences are becoming fully independent studio homes for adult children, allowing them to save and plan, whilst continuing to contribute to the essence of Melbourne’s most vibrant and cultural suburbs.

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Escenario TODOROKI

Changing transport needs

While Brickface offers the security of a permanent, independent home for the owner’s daughter in years to come, it has also been designed to adapt to changing transport needs. With the rapid onset of driverless cars we will see home owners searching for new uses for their garage spaces. The ground level at Brickface has been deliberately designed with high ceilings, so it can easily be adapted into a generous living space. The garage door can be removed and replaced, to create a generous entry into a lounge, or alternatively the owners daughter may choose to start a business on the ground floor and simply replace the garage door with a glazed shop front. There is a swath of potential for this space that, at the moment, is only a temporary storage zone for vehicles. Yet, in the future, it can be so much more.


Brickface is a compact building with an efficient and considered footprint. Designed to maximises not only use of space but also function, it offers a flexible floor plan which can be adapted with changing needs. Standing two storey’s high, plus a productive roof garden, the tall building is constructed almost entirely from locally sourced recycled red brick. The reuse of materials is simple, ecological, durable and requires no further maintenance, whilst also helping Brickface to present a history, character and sense of past.

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