One man’s trash is another man’s building material. Researchers from the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (commonly known as RMIT University) have developed a technique for making bricks out of one of the world’s most stubborn forms of pollution: discarded cigarette butts. Led by Dr. Abbas Mohajerani, the team discovered that manufacturing fired-clay bricks with as little as 1 percent cigarette butt content could completely offset annual worldwide cigarette production, while also producing a lighter, more efficient brick.
Gabinete de Arquitectura’s “Breaking the Siege” – Winner of the Golden Lion at the 2016 Venice Biennale
Bricks are an iconic element of Solano Benítez’s studio. An ancestral material, forged by man using an ancient technique of modeling and baking. Bricks are very versatile, cheap and easy to manufacture – even marginalized areas of the world can afford to build houses with brick. Benítez feels the poetry of brick and has experimented with its versatility, relying solely on bricks as the main construction material. 
Gabinete de Arquitectura's exhibition, designed by Solano Benítez, Gloria Cabral and Solanito Benítez, was awarded the Golden Lion for Best Participant in the International Exhibition, Reporting From the Front, for “harnessing simple materials, structural ingenuity and unskilled labour to bring architecture to underserved communities.”
Though it was once an essential element of all classical structures, the frieze has largely been left behind by architects looking for contemporary façade systems. But at the recently-opened addition to the Kunstmuseum Basel, designed by Swiss architects Christ & Gantenbein in collaboration with design group iart, the frieze returns with an eye-catching, technological twist, as hidden pixels within the facade light up to display moving images and text to those below.
Jyväskylä, a city whose status as the center of Finnish culture and academia during the nineteenth century earned it the nickname “the Athens of Finland,” awarded Alvar Aalto the contract to design a university campus worthy of the city’s cultural heritage in 1951. Built around the pre-existing facilities of Finland’s Athenaeum, the new university would be designed with great care to respect both its natural and institutional surroundings.
The city of Jyväskylä was by no means unfamiliar to Aalto; he had moved there as a young boy with his family in 1903 and returned to form his practice in the city after qualifying as an architect in Helsinki in 1923. He was well acquainted with Jyväskylä’s Teacher Seminary, which had been a bastion of the study of the Finnish language since 1863. Such an institution was eminently important in a country that had spent most of its history as part of either Sweden or Russia. As such, the teaching of Finnish was considered an integral part of the awakening of the fledgling country’s national identity.
Originally built as the headquarters for the Finnish Communist Party, the House of Culture (Kultuuritalo in Finnish) has since established itself as one of Helsinki’s most popular concert venues. Comprising a rectilinear copper office block, a curved brick auditorium, and a long canopy that binds them together, the House of Culture represents the pinnacle of Alvar Aalto’s work with red brick architecture in the 1950s.
Occupying the center of a small farming town in Finland, Säynätsalo’s Town Hall might appear almost too monumental for its context. Designed by Alvar Aalto in 1949, the town hall is a study in opposition: elements of classicism and the monumental blended with modernity and intimacy to form a cohesive new center-point for the community. These and other aspects of the design initially proved somewhat divisive, and the Town Hall has not been without controversy since its inception.
Sitting on the northern bank of Venice's Grand Canal is a great house whose ornately carved marble facade only hints at its original splendor. The Palazzo Santa Sofia—or the Ca D’Oro (House of Gold), as it is also known—is one of the most notable examples of late Venetian Gothic architecture, which combined the existing threads of Gothic, Moorish, and Byzantine architecture into a unique aesthetic that symbolized the Venetian Republic’s cosmopolitan mercantile empire. Built to serve as the grand residence of wealthy Venetian businessman and politician Marin Contarini, the palazzo has seen a number of owners and renovations over its lifetime before ultimately coming to serve as a museum for medieval painting and sculpture.
“Valdemars Have” by schmidt hammer lassen Architects is an urban residential block located within walking distance of Aarhus, Denmark's main cultural attractions. By using and adding to the greenery of Aarhus, Valdemars Have seeks to be an oasis within the city and serve as a public, urban garden. Overall, there will be 106 apartments ranging from two-bedroom flats to penthouses with private roof terraces.
Louis Kahn's Richards Medical Research Laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, once deemed "the most consequential building constructed in the United States" since World War II by MoMA, has been notoriously hated by its users; scientists claim the building lacks privacy, has too much exposure to sunlight and is not suitable for lab experiments. Thus, the University's architect has just completed a full renovation of Richards' four brick towers, converting them into offices and computer labs for researchers, while, as Philly.com reports, restoring the structure to its original essence.
"The renovation has pared Kahn's spaces down to their essence, restoring a Zenlike calm, and revealing the muscular concrete structure that made the design such a revelation in the early 1960s, when International Style glass towers were all the rage," says Philly.com. Read the complete article here.
A new construction worker has been lending high-efficiency help to job sites, laying bricks at almost three times the speed of a human worker. SAM (short for Semi-Automated Mason) is a robotic bricklayer that handles the repetitive tasks of basic brick laying, MIT Technology Review reports. While SAM handles picking up bricks, applying mortar and placing them at designated locations, its human partner handles worksite setup, laying bricks in specific areas (e.g. corners) and improving the aesthetic quality of the masonry.
Bushwick, now famed for its art, night life and abundance of green spaces, is one of the fastest gentrifying neighbourhoods in Brooklyn. ODA New York's 71 White Street will be the latest in new developments taking over former industrial buildings in the neighborhood -- but with a twist. Using the foundation of a former 1930s manufacturing building, 71 White will preserve its graffitied brick exterior, maintaining the character of the neighbourhood. Read more about the project after the break.
After receiving over 600 projects from all over the world, a panel of architecture journalists and critics has selected the 50 shortlisted projects for the Wienerberger Brick Award 2016. The biannual architectural award is presented to outstanding examples of modern and innovative brick architecture.
Among the 2016 shortlisted projects are Sharon Davis Design’s Women’s Opportunity Center, Ateliers Jean Nouvel + MDW Architecture’s Police Headquearters & Charleroi Danses, O’Donnell + Tuomey Architects’ LSE Saw Hock Student Centre, BC Architects’ Library of Muyinga and Frank Gehry’s Dr Chau Chak Wing Building.
The Royal Incorporation of Architects in Scotland (RIAS) has deemed Sutherland Hussey Architects' latest housing scheme the "Best Building" in Scotland by awarding it the 2015 Doolan prize. The "West Burn Lane" project was said to be the "clear winner" of the £25,000 award, as AJ reports, selected from a shortlist of 12 Scottish buildings.
The brick courtyard housing project was lauded by the jury for being "expertly woven" into the context of St. Andrews - one of Scotland's most historic areas.
Images of Souto Moura Arquitectos' first US project has emerged. Aimed to replace a former gas station at 2715 Pennsylvanian Avenue NW in Washington DC, the five-story red brick and concrete building will feature a ground floor restaurant and eight 2,000-square-foot apartment units with balconies, a gym and penthouse terrace.
As BizJournals reports, the proposal is being pitched by EastBanc Inc. as the new "entrance to Georgetown." The Portuguese architect chose red brick "because it seems to be the most appropriate for this part of the city."
Advances in computers and fabrication technology have allowed architects to create fantastic designs with relative ease that in years past would likely require the labor of countless master craftsmen. Architecture firms like Gramazio Kohler Architects are known for their innovative approach to digital fabrication, adapting technology from a variety of fields. To create this stunning new brick façade for Keller AG Ziegeleien, Gramazio Kohler used an innovative robotic manufacturing process called “ROBmade,” which uses a robot to position and glue the bricks together.
The Netherlands Builds in Brick is one of the latest exhibitions at Het Nieuwe Instituut (formerly the NAi) in Rotterdam. It seeks to modify the "assumed triumph of Modernism" in the interwar period, drawing upon two photographic collections from the Institute's extensive archives. The exhibition has been curated to highlight that brick remained the favoured construction material throughout the advocacy of the Modernist movement, even for experimental construction.
The Wienerberger Brick Award is a biannual architectural award that is presented to outstanding examples of modern and innovative brick architecture. In 2016, Wienerberger will present this internationally established award for the seventh time, and the award is now open for submissions. Architecture critics, journalists and for the first time also architects themselves can submit projects online until March 31, 2015. The official Brick Award ceremony will take place in Vienna in spring 2016.
The Award acknowledges innovative brick buildings of international quality that show the varied and diverse ways brick can be used in contemporary architecture. At the same time, the award, and in particular the accompanying architectural book, gives people with an interest in architecture, as well as experts, an overview of current developments and trends in international brick architecture with its remarkable range of applications.
In 1954 British sculptor Henry Moore was commissioned to design and install a large wall relief into Joost Boks' new bouwcentrum (Construction Centre) in the Dutch city of Rotterdam. The project, pieced together with approximately 16,000 hand-carved Dutch bricks, stands as the sculptor's only work completed in the humble material. In a short documentary film produced by ARTtube, architectural historian Wouter Vanstiphout narrates the fascinating story behind Wall Relief No.1.