Ah, winter ??? season of mists and mellow fruitfulness. Whoops, that’s actually autumn, isn’t it? (Sorry, Keats.)
Sweet season of delight? Um, I guess that’d be spring. (Apologies to you also, Elizabeth Bentley.)
Winter. What’s good about winter? Well, there’s football. And football. And, uh ??? football.
But when it comes to getting out the door, most of us need a bit of a psychological push.
That’s where the outdoor fireplace comes in.
The outdoor fireplace helps to activate an outdoor space???. Photo: MAKE Architecture A number of architecture firms, such as Kennedy Nolan, MAKE Architecture, Vokes and Peters and Shaun Lockyer Architects have turned the feature into something of a trademark of their residential designs.
Melissa Bright, founder of MAKE Architecture, says that the outdoor fireplace helps to activate an outdoor space.
“We’re designing in more and more dense urban environments – the big sprawling backyard is no longer,” she says.
“What is happening with our work is that every single inch of space needs to be used, and used well.
“It’s about more quality, in less space – small, intimate backyards that get fully activated, and are really useful as a living space.”
Edmund House by Kennedy Nolan. Photo: Kennedy Nolan
Bright cites as an example MAKE Architecture’s Perimeter House. The project, set on a small, inner-city block with a tiny courtyard, has an outdoor fireplace built into the balustrade around the swimming pool. Related: How to dine al fresco in cooler monthsRelated: Beautiful outdoor living spacesRelated: How to create an alfresco area
Rachel Nolan, co-founder of architecture firm Kennedy Nolan, regarded as the progenitor of the outdoor fireplace trend, says that the feature adds to the overall aesthetic of the project.
“It’s not just about the practical uses for them,” she says.
“Sometimes they can contribute to the form of the building. They can work as quite a sculptural element, but they also refer to the domestic – that idea of hearth and home.
“It does give the space a focus – and often, when we’re designing an outdoor space, we make it so you can see it from inside the house. [In addition], it can be used to block the view of something.”
In Kennedy Nolan’s Fairfield House, the outdoor fireplace is set at the end of a large block where the family pool is situated, near the banks of the Yarra River, to help draw the family down to the back of the garden.
At the award-winning Deepdene House, the feature is topped with terracotta chimney pots, emphasising its sculptural presence.
And in the Park Lane House, a double-flued fireplace on the patio was specifically designed so that the client could cook a Greek-style roast.
“It really does vary in terms of the spaces,” Nolan says.
“We can propose them, and now that people have seen them in other projects, if it works, it can be accommodated.”
While the outdoor fireplace can serve a multitude of practical and aesthetic purposes within a project, perhaps its most appealing aspect is its ability to encourage people to make the most of their gardens when the weather is less than ideal.
“Autumn and spring are pretty marginal for sitting outdoors,” says MAKE Architecture’s Bright.
“The outdoor fireplace increases the lifespan of the space throughout the year.”