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Celebrating Petersen Kolumba™ bricks: bringing calm and clarity to Bondi's Deepwater House

Deepwater House Bondi, Petersen brick screen
North Bondi's Deepwater House

Perched on Ben Buckler, adjacent to Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach, Deepwater, designed by Tobias Partners, created a positive stir among architects and the local community. What better way to acknowledge Petersen Kolumba™ bricks turning 10 than to celebrate this spectacular home that won three awards in 2016:

  • NSW Architecture Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (new)

  • Houses Award for New Houses over 200m2, and

  • Waverley Design and Heritage Awards for Contemporary Design).

While attracted to the buzz of the busy suburb, the home owners wanted an interior that was quiet and zen-like, something that would be calming.

To look at the breathtaking result that is Deepwater House, you'd never dream that Tobias Partners and Bellevarde Constructions had to overcome multiple challenges when designing and constructing it. Not the least was the dramatic three storey slope from the road to the water's edge, the tightness of the site, being wedged between apartment buildings on either side, as well as privacy and environmental considerations, including Sydney's intense afternoon sun, unpredictable coastal winds and the corrosive, salty area that is Bondi. But this incredible team overcame every challenge with aplomb.

Deepwater House presents an impressive and visually solid facade, combining white concrete and Burmese teak with handmade Petersen Kolumba™ bricks in two nine metre high perforated brick screens.

Handmade Petersen Kolumba bricks were perfect for this brick screen
Tobias Partners loved Petersen Kolumba bricks' slightly uneven, artisan handmade feel

Nick Tobias, Founding Principal, Tobias Partners, says: "We did a lot of research to find the right brick for the patterned screen walls .... We wanted density at the bottom and lightness at the top. To achieve this effect, we needed the thinnest bricks we could find, which turned out to be Kolumba™ by Petersen Tegl." And Nick continues, "The bright, rustic Danish bricks stand in beautiful contrast to the raw concrete, the white plaster facade and the cobblestone pavement in front of the house. For the screens we drew on Indian and Asian influences, but used a European product, which is actually a typically Australian way of doing things."

John Richards, Tobias Partners’ Project Principal says the team had many other reasons for choosing Petersen bricks, from Kolumba's colour, which complemented the remaining palette, its elegant and elongated proportions, right down to the romantic story behind its artisan approach.


But, more simply, John says, “They're beautiful bricks. And we liked the slightly uneven artisan handmade feel about them. It was a nice contrast against the hard edge of the concrete, and good to have a material next to the concrete, that’s undulating in its own form.” 

Handmde Petersen Kolumba bricks screen creating beautifully dappled light
The Petersen Kolumba brick screen creates beautifully dappled light in the courtyard

The Petersen Kolumba™ bricks also work well as an architectural feature, creating dappled light during the morning as the sun rises over the adjacent building. It’s a beautiful, peaceful touch, adding another calming and creative element to this absolutely stunning design.

The house also has an equally compact and incredibly creative internal design, complete with hand-crafted joinery and hardware, a carefully curated display of paintings and sculptures, and a brilliant work of art on the roof terrace by Danish-Australian artist Mika Utzon Popov, created using custom, hand-moulded Petersen K21 bricks.

Mika found inspiration in the rocky coastline and the Petersen Kolumba brick screens around the courtyard, noting, "I wanted to create a work that, like the house, doesn't make a big fuss, but just merges imperceptibly into its surroundings. The idea was that the artwork should both refer to the surrounding natural environment and incorporate elements of the building - like the brick screen walls." The result is a wall-hung 3.2 x 1.2m rectangle of polished concrete, comprising three panels and an organic, wavy surface. Hand-shaped, rustic Petersen bricks in a warm, terracotta hue sit on the concrete, following its undulations. The final artwork is hung on a sheltered roof terrace wall that has a beautiful view over the courtyard.

Petersen K21 bricks create a beautiful artwork
Mika Utzon Popov's beautiful artwork contains custom, hand-moulded K21 bricks

Developing the artwork is a complete story in itself, beautifully told in Petersen, Issue 36, 2017, via an incredibly detailed five-page spread. It shows how Mika faced one of the greatest challenges to deliver the most significant commission of his career, how he experienced, first hand, the intimate connection between art and architecture, and, most importantly, how he experienced the essence of Petersen Tegl:

"Without knowing anything about clay or process, I asked if they could shape wet bricks to an organic rhythm. I see Christian's response as the very essence of the way Petersen Tegl works: "I don't know, so let's find out. Come up and give it a go!""

Mika worked at the brickworks in Broager for two separate three-week periods, and Petersen made space, materials, expertise and labour available to him: "We were not sure the goal we had set was possible, but we pushed ourselves to achieve it," Mika recalls.

Needless to say, the owners, artist and architects were all absolutely thrilled with the end result.

You can read about this project and many others in Petersen. Visit our Petersen page and subscribe to have a hard copy of delivered to your letterbox by mail. Or, instantly download a digital copy on our Petersen page to keep track of the amazing array of Petersen projects taking shape right across the globe.

Architect: Tobias Partners

Artistic decorations: Mika Utzon Popov

Photography: Justin Alexander



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