Browse photos of homes, encompassing mid-20th century modern to new contemporary construction, that feature breeze blocks to enhance their aesthetic appeal as well as add privacy and sun control, while still allowing airflow. This post shines the spotlight on installations of Tesselle Breeze Blocks, as well as decades-old installations from other manufacturers.
To learn more about the history of breeze blocks, we recommend Ron and Barbara Marshall's well-researched book, Concrete Screen Block, published by the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation. References in this article to historic facts and pattern names are often provided in this book, which lists 250 breeze block patterns.
Above: This contemporary home features an expansive wall of Rotary-style breeze blocks in grey, supported by standard masonry blocks.
About Rotary Breeze Blocks
Historically known as the Empress Breeze Block, this pattern was originally designed by architect Edward Durell Stone for the expansive façade of the U.S. Embassy in India, which was completed in 1959. This building brought breeze blocks onto the world stage, was praised by Frank Lloyd Wright (who also had an interest in producing concrete blocks), and won a First Honor from the American Institute of Architects. In 1960, Edward Durell Stone was awarded a patent for the Empress Block, but by then, it had been so widely copied, he chose not to pursue litigation. Ron and Barbara Marshall found variants of this design sold under the names Mar Veil, Large Diamond, Cordova, Architectural Block 430, 377, 165 or 122, Filigree, Venetian and Trojan. A single unit of of the popular Rotary Breeze Block pattern features what looks like a star pattern that forms circles when installed. Want a similar design in a smaller scale? Select the Roundabout Breeze Block.
Above: According to the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, The Theodore and Claire Morse Residence, was originally built as a tract home in the Vista Las Palmas neighborhood of Palm Springs by the firm Palmer & Krisel, however, it was architect Harold “Hal” Levitt who glamorized the residence with this dramatic Rotary-style Breeze Block façade.
Above: This inviting all-white home utilizes Rotary-style breeze blocks to define shaded porch areas.
Above: A popular use for breeze blocks is to add a decorative element to the top of a standard masonry wall, as with this courtyard, which surrounds the entryway. We love the pizzazz these Rotary-style Breeze Blocks add to this privacy wall.
Above: This fabulous color story is told with a grey backdrop, plus white Rotary-style Breeze Blocks and trim, that are accented by pops of bright yellow.
Above: In front of this custom, mid-century home, Rotary-style Breeze Blocks that are painted grey, make a bold statement against a natural stone backdrop.
About Town Square Breeze Blocks
The first known use of this breeze block design, originally called the Vista-Vue, according to Ron and Barbara Marshall, was by architect William Ainley of Monrovia, CA. Versions of this design have been produced by many manufacturers with names such as Square in Square, Mar-Veil, View-Lite IV, Double Square, Box in Box, Lakemead, Trinidad, Classic and Architectural Block 308. Town Square remains one of the most popular breeze blocks for renovations, as well as new construction. Choose Tesselle's Crossroads breeze block style for a smaller scale and greater coverage. A similar style is featured on the iconic front wall of the Parker Palm Springs.
Above: This modern home has it all; sweeping Town Square-style Breeze Block walls that echo the interesting, boxy shapes in the architecture, a bright orange entry way, and desert flora including Palm and Palo Verde trees, with a view of San Jacinto Mountain as a backdrop.
Above: Town Square -style Breeze Blocks painted yellow create a bold color story.
Above: Town Square-style Breeze Blocks add impact and patio privacy to a newer, contemporary home.
Above: Town Square-style Breeze Blocks brighten the façade of this cool, modern desert ranch house, that features boulders and cacti as design elements.
Above: Multiple layers of Town Square-style Breeze Blocks are mixed with standard blocks to add visual impact to this custom, modern home, and as a backdrop to beautiful desert landscaping.
Above: Town Square-style Breeze Blocks create private outdoor living spaces in the front yard of this cheerful, modern home.
Above: Town Square-style Breeze Blocks are placed intermittently along the expanse of a standard masonry wall. We love the mixture of materials as a backdrop to native desert plants.
Above: Smaller scale Crossroads-style Breeze Blocks are a defining feature of this bright and airy desert home.
Above: The entire side yard of this bright, modern desert hideaway is encased in a curved wall that features Shamrock-style Breeze Blocks.
About Shamrock Breeze Blocks
The Shamrock pattern was introduced in 1959 as the Sunflower Breeze Blocks, and has been produced by a myriad of companies across the country, under many names. Ron and Barbara Marshall's book even includes a photo of Marilyn Monroe posing with a Sunflower Breeze Blocks Wall by George Barris. Shamrock Breeze Blocks are among our best-sellers, and Tesselle also offers 2 other variations on this pattern, smaller-scale Clover, and Petal, which can form a variety of patterns, depending on layout.
Above: Shamrock-style Breeze Blocks in grey are the highlight of this east-facing front yard of a newly built desert home, shielding the patio area from the morning sun.
Above: A Shamrock-style Breeze Block garden wall that brings this floral-inspired pattern in front of a bold, contemporary home with straight lines. We love the way this image demonstrates how beautiful breeze blocks are when backlit.
Above: A modern home with a Shamrock-style Breeze Block screen wall, painted a rich shade of teal. All Tesselle Breeze Blocks can be painted or ordered in a choice of 8 through-body colors, including a similar hue, Jade.
Above: Desert elements combine in this cheerful front yard to highlight 3 Shamrock-style Breeze Block walls.
Above: Verona-style Breeze Blocks, surrounded by a steel frame structure, make a stunning street-facing statement in this brilliant, modern home.
About Verona Breeze Blocks
Originally manufactured by Clanton, and called the Venus Breeze Block, the Verona Breeze Block, unlike the other blocks featured in this article, can form a myriad of bold patterns that have an organic aesthetic, based on the layout chosen. This breeze block pattern has also been sold under the names Satel-Lite VI and Universal.
Above: Verona-style Breeze Blocks create an organically-inspired design in front of this home with bright, sunny accents.
Above: Even in the shade, the bold lines of Verona-style Breeze Blocks define the look of this mid-century gem.
Mission Breeze Blocks
Light and airy, Mission-style Breeze Blocks add style to this beautiful desert property, while defining an outdoor living space.
About Mission Breeze Blocks
While we could not find an identical historical design to Tesselle's Mission Breeze Block, there are several patterns that are similar, including Maltese, Coronado, Roman and Architectural Block 409 or 326.
Breeze Blocks are also referred to as Screen Blocks, Pattern Blocks, Architectural Blocks and Brise-Soleils. Tesselle offers samples of all items in their Breeze Block Collection, and free delivery of their products within the 48 contiguous United States.
Please note that if you would like to build a breeze block structure, each city has different codes, and they have changed over time. Please check with your city planning department before proceeding. Read our installation instructions here.
All photos, unless otherwise indicated, are by Karin Jeske.