The Brick Industry Association (BIA) has announced the winners of the 2017 Brick in Architecture Awards, given to “the country’s most visionary projects incorporating fired-clay brick.” This year, 35 projects from 19 states were selected as winners, with a best in-class project awarded across eight categories: Commercial, Educational (Higher Education), Educational (K-12), Renovation / Restoration, Municipal/Government, Residential (Multifamily), Residential (Single Family) and Paving & Landscape.
“The winners demonstrate brick’s aesthetic flexibility, and its integral role in any sustainable, low maintenance and durable building strategy,” said Ray Leonhard, BIA’s president and CEO.
The work of artist Alex Chinneck is grounded in architecture. From melting buildings to a slumping facade to a structure ripped in half and hovering, Chinneck’s work plays with the expectation of materials and tectonics, resulting in captivating mind-bending illusions. His latest work (and first permanent sculpture), Six Pins and Half a Dozen Needles, continues this exploration, taking the form of a large brick wall ripped down the center.
VTN Architects has revealed plans for a new training complex for Vietnam’s largest mobile network operator located within a training center campus at Hoa Lac Hi-Tech Park, 30 km outside of the capital city of Hanoi. Currently under construction, the Viettel Academy Education Center has been designed as a “cooling microclimate” with short-term residential accommodation aimed at creating a quiet, peaceful space for the company’s new trainees to focus on their studies away from the distraction of the city.
A design by C-re-a.i.d. for a Maasai village in northern Tanzania, is a morphological response to the imposed need to settle, using sustainable, local and accessible materials to redefine its construction culture.
The project is built by a series of earthbags and glass bottles that in addition to generating private and comfortable spaces, allow a quick and easy construction.
In a 12-day workshop, Building Trust International and Terraepaglia joined the Ciuffelli Agricultural Technical Institute in Todi, Italy, with the aim of exploring a series of construction techniques with raw soil. In addition to producing earth bricks and rammed earth structures -in collaboration with experts such as Eliana Baglioni and Pouya Khazaeli-, a curved wall was erected with a wooden structure and a cane framework, on which a massive layer of earth and straw was spread.
The activity generated a series of internal spaces as a kind of laboratory, to show the construction methods and the materials in situ.
It can't be denied that architects love brick. The material is popular both for its warmth and for the diversity of expressions that can be achieved by applying it in a creative way—depending on the arrangement of individual bricks or the combination of bonds, it’s possible to arrive at a result that is both original and attractive. That ingenuity is what photographers like Hiroyuki Oki, Gustavo Sosa Pinilla, and François Brix, among others, have attempted to capture in their photographs. In these images, light is a key element of good composition, allowing the photographers to control the intensity of color and the contrast of masses and voids, as well as enhancing the incredible textures of the brick we love so much.
In the heart of a suburb just east of London stands an incongruous red brick villa. With its pointed arched window frames and towering chimneys, the house was designed to appear like a relic of the Middle Ages. In reality, its vintage dates to the 1860’s. This is Red House, the Arts and Crafts home of artist William Morris and his family. Built as a rebuttal to an increasingly industrialized age, Red House’s message has been both diminished by the passage of time and, over the course of the centuries, been cast in greater relief against its context.
German architecture firm 22quadrat was inspired by the visual effect created by soundwaves moving through water when designing “impulses,” a brick relief wall in the interior courtyard of the Pallotti Residential Complex in Freising, Germany. The architects derived the concept from a metaphor; a single brick is like a single particle, hardly noticeable on its own but capable of much greater impact when combined with others.
The object of this architectural restoration is the Church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in Vistabella, the work of Catalan architect Josep Maria Jujol (16 September 1879 – 1 May 1949). The original design dates from 1917 with the construction completed in 1923. The building is a magnificent and personal work of Catalan architecture.
The simplicity of the materials used—basically brick, mortar, and stone—contrasts with the spectacular formal richness of the structural solutions: columns, arches, and vaults that generate a complex, rich, and surreal interior space typical of the mysticism of Jujol.
Bricks are as old as the hills. An enduring element of architectural construction, brick has been a material of choice as far back as 7000BC. Through the centuries, bricks have built ancient empires in Turkey, Egypt, Rome and Greece. Exposed stock brick came to define the Georgian era, with thousands of red brick terraces still lining the streets of cities such as London, Edinburgh and Dublin.
South Korea presents an interesting case for the changing face of brick, with a preference for dark, grey masonry striking a heavy, brutalist, yet playful tone. Like many countries, South Korean brick architecture has questioned conformity, experimenting with stepped, perforated, permeable facades, and dynamic, curved, flowing walls. Below, we have rounded up 12 of their most interesting results.
In 2015, after the catastrophic earthquake in Nepal, Maria da Paz invited Joao Boto Caeiro from RootStudio to design and build a model house in Nepal. Using local and accessible materials, they built two prototype houses out of bamboo and partitions, via a collaboration between locals and volunteers that came to the region.
The prototypes respond to the need for housing that is able to be built quickly with the goal of providing independence and immediate shelter, while at the same time introducing basic building techniques using bamboo and bricks. In doing so, they're able to create a set of tools that allow for future construction that the community can make themselves.
Iran’s geography consists largely of a central desert plateau, surrounded by mountain ranges. Due to the country being mostly covered by earth, sand, and rock, Iranian architecture makes fantastic use of brick or adobe elements. Most of the buildings seen in larger cities such as Tehran and Isfahan are constructed using similar brick-laying methods as can been seen in other parts of the world, but certain constructions, usually ones that date further back, contain incredible geometrical treasures. And it doesn’t stop there - old Iranian architecture often contains a layer of tiles over the brick constructions that can create just as mesmerizing geometrical wonders. The art of creating complexity by using many incredibly simple elements is one that has been mastered in Iran. In an architectural world where construction has become hidden by layers of plaster and plywood, we could learn a lot from the beauty of Iran’s structural geometry, where skin and structure are (almost always) one and the same.
As the common phrase attests, “history is written by the victors.” We therefore know that the story of the West is that of Europe and the United States, while the other actors in world history are minimized or invisible: it happened to the Chinese and Japanese during World War II, to the Ottoman Empire in sixteenth-century Europe, and to racial majorities in the common reading of Latin American independence. The same thing happens in architecture.
The current boom of the Global South is based not only on new work, but rather on the recognition of an invisible architecture which was apparently not worthy of publication in the journals of the 1990s. The world stage has changed, with the emergence of a humanity that is decentralized yet local; globalized, yet heterogeneous; accelerated, yet unbalanced. There are no longer red and blue countries, but a wide variety of colors, exploding like a Pollock painting.
This serves as a preamble to consider the outstanding projects of 2016 according to the British critic Oliver Wainwright, whose map of the world appears to extend from New York in the West to Oslo in the East, with the exception of Birzeit in Palestine. The Global South represents more than 40% of the global economy and already includes most of the world’s megacities, yet has no architecture worthy of recognition? We wanted to highlight the following projects in order to expand the western-centric world view, enabling us to truly comprehend the extent of architectural innovation on a global scale.
A building’s materiality is what our bodies make direct contact with; the cold metal handle, the warm wooden wall, and the hard glass window would all create an entirely different atmosphere if they were, say, a hard glass handle, a cold metal wall and a warm wooden window (which with KTH’s new translucent wood, is not as absurd as it might sound). Materiality is of just as much importance as form, function and location—or rather, inseparable from all three.
Here we’ve compiled a selection of 16 materials that should be part of the design vocabulary of all architects, ranging from the very familiar (such as concrete and steel) to materials which may be unknown for some of our readers, as well as links to comprehensive resources to learn more about many of them.