Using concrete and bricks made of raw mud, architects Solanito Benitez, Solano Benitez, Gloria Cabral, Maria Rovea and Ricardo Sargiotti built a wall able to be constructed by the two materials working in tandem. Once the concrete dries, the bricks are washed away, returning the mud back to its natural state, leaving spaces in the lines of concrete, like a kind of negative.
This artistic intervention arose from an invitation to participate in an art exhibition in Unquillo MUVA, Cordoba, Argentina from April 11 to May 3, 2014.
The wide range in which pieces of masonry can be arranged allows for multiple spatial configurations. Born in a furnace, the brick adorns and reinforces, protects and—to various degrees—brings natural light into spaces that need slight, natural illumination.
Throughout history, traditional brick-laying consisted of predetermined arrangement of parts, and lines of rope to guide the consistency and placement of each individual brick. But there are many other ways to exploit this multi-faceted, timeless material, so we've selected 16 projects that demonstrate the potential of the humble brick.
Below find 16 construction details from projects that use bricks in ingenious ways.
Thanks to a new robot named Hadrian X, we made soon be able to construct an entire brick house in just 2 days. Developed by the appropriately named Australian firm Fastbrick Robotics, the giant truck-mounted robot has the ability to lay up to 1,000 bricks an hour. Its innovation comes via the machine’s 30-meter telescopic boom, which allows the base to remain in a single position throughout the brick-laying process.
Six million yellow bricks on a hilltop just outside Copenhagen form one of the world’s foremost, if not perhaps comparatively unknown, Expressionist monuments. Grundtvigs Kirke (“Grundtvig’s Church”), designed by architect Peder Vilhelm Jensen Klint, was built between 1921 and 1940 as a memorial to N.F.S. Grundtvig – a famed Danish pastor, philosopher, historian, hymnist, and politician of the 19th century. Jensen Klint, inspired by Grundtvig’s humanist interpretation of Christianity, merged the scale and stylings of a Gothic cathedral with the aesthetics of a Danish country church to create a landmark worthy of its namesake.
It was decided in 1912 that Grundtvig, who had passed away in 1873, had been so significant to Danish history and culture that he merited a national monument. Two competitions were held in 1912 and 1913, bringing in numerous design submissions for statues, decorative columns, and architectural memorials.
The Brick Industry Association (BIA) has announced the results of the 2016 Brick in Architecture Awards, given to “the country’s most visionary projects incorporating fired-clay brick.” This year, there were a total of 32 medalists with Best in Class winners in seven categories: Commercial, Educational (Higher Education), Educational (K-12), Healthcare, Municipal/Government, Residential (Multifamily) and Residential (Single Family).
“These winners demonstrate the best of brick’s aesthetic flexibility, and as a material made from abundant natural resources, it’s a perfect strategy in sustainable design,” said Ray Leonhard, BIA’s president and CEO.
With their latest facade construction, Iranian architecture firm Sstudiomm explores the potential that brick can offer by utilizing parametric architecture. Instead of relying on unique construction elements for assembly on-site at a later date, in their new project (called, in full, "Negative Precision. On-Site Fabrication of a ParametricBrick Facade // A DIY for Architects") the firm considers how a simple mass-produced element like the brick can be assembled in unique ways by taking advantage of digital technology. While firms like Gramazio Kohler have already developed industrial methods of assembling brickwork following parametric designs, Sstudiomm aims for a more lo-fi approach, creating parametric brick walls using little more than the traditional construction methods found in Iran and a dose of ingenuity.
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.
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 VenetianGothic architecture, which combined the existing threads of Gothic, Moorish, and Byzantine architecture into a unique aesthetic that symbolized the VenetianRepublic’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.