Brick House… bought to you by a family calling themselves Curators of Form.
State of Kin is not only the cool name of a Perth architectural practice. It’s also a statement of fact about most of the personnel in the collective of architects, interior designers, builders and site managers who manufacture all sorts of cool constructions.
It takes a webbed diagram to outline the interconnections between uncles, sons, cousins, husbands, wives, and in-laws (most share the surname Salomone), who in 2013 bought their diverse skills and separate companies together to create the entity.
Yes, confirms Ara Salomone, architect and director who married into what is obviously an Italian clan of people “who are very close and who have no trouble telling each other what they think. So, it really does work”.
If you take, for example, the highly individuated home the family collective helped Ara, and her husband, Donato Salomone (site manager) realised on 300 square metres in an industrial-residential neighbourhood immediately north of the city, it’s apparent just how inventive la famiglia can be when pooling talents for a demanding task.
What is this brick house: a factory conversion, a residence raised behind the arched ruins of some vintage enterprise?
For Ara, her four-bedroom, three-bathroom design with the big distinctive windows and so much detailing rendered in 400,000 recycled bricks, it was nothing more conceptually complicated than “what the site needed … what the site could take”.
“It was about form, built-scale, context – how it would fit into the streetscape and materiality. The character came about because the locality had a lot of delis and little factories, so a factory was not uncommon,” she says. This explains the saw tooth profile of part of the roofscape.
Ara says that she did the arches to the garage after being inspired by a nearby police station. Plus, “I wanted it to look like [the arches] had always been there and we had built the house behind it.”
The big statement in the choice of brick came from an abiding appreciation of what you can do with bricks and mortar, that Mrs Salomone developed during an architectural internship exchange spent in India.
“I learned about so many methods of what you can do in brick and clay that I wanted to play with [those ideas] in this house … go all out and be a bit crazy.”
“Getting heavy with brick didn’t need to be serious. The windows are all done on a grid so that it doesn’t look messy; it’s actually all even.
“I just wanted to be playful and bring in all that natural light that you see everywhere inside, so that you never feel like you’re in a warehouse. It’s very light.”
Inside all that rough, unadorned brickwork is industrial unplugged, but it is the in-built fittings and insertions that make for a comfortable home, that Ara says works well whether it’s just being occupied by two people, or by parties of 100.
“I wanted simple. I didn’t want chaos. It looks simple, but it wasn’t simple because with all that brick [the interior design] (aided by sister-in-law and co-director Alessandra French) really needed to be crafted and light.”
Having occupied this intriguing home for a couple of years, Ara reports that: “it feels good. It does what it was meant to do. It’s a brick and concrete house, but it makes people happy.”
The house has also done the most to rebrand a fascinating family business because it advertises in a major way “that we don’t have to do it like everyone else.”
Architects: State of Kin