the world's most visited architecture website

AD Round Up: Classics in Brick

As one of the most ubiquitous forms of construction, it can sometimes be easy to overlook the humble brick. However, this prosaic building method can also be one of the most versatile materials available to architects, thanks to the experimentation of countless architects who, for centuries, have worked to create new forms of expression with the simple material. In this round up, we celebrate architects who, with their architectural classics, have expanded the possibilities of brick craft: Antoni Gaudí's fantastical vaulting at Colònia Güell and Alvar Aalto's experimental brick patterning at his house in Muuratsalo; the powerful brick piers of Kevin Roche and John Dinkeloo's Knights of Columbus Building and the Catalan vaults of Porro, Garatti and Gattardi's National Arts School of Cuba; and finally, what brick round up would be complete without the brick-whisperer himself - Louis Kahn and his all-brick fortress for the Indian Institute of Management.

Muuratsalo Experimental House / Alvar Aalto. Image © Nico Saieh Knights of Columbus Building / Kevin Roche & John Dinkeloo. Image © Flickr: username- sftrajan The National Art Schools of Cuba / Ricardo Porro, Vittorio Garatti, Roberto Gottardi. Image © Norma Barbacci/World Monuments Fund Indian Institute of Management / Louis Kahn. Image © Wikimedia Commons

AD Classics: The National Art Schools of Cuba / Ricardo Porro, Vittorio Garatti, Roberto Gottardi

“Cuba will count as having the most beautiful academy of arts in the world.” - Fidel Castro (1961)

The Cuban National Schools of Arts, originally imagined by Fidel Castro and Che Guevara in 1961, are perhaps the largest architectural achievements of the Cuban Revolution. The innovative design of the schools, which aimed to bring cultural literacy to the nation, encapsulated the radical, utopian vision of the Revolution. Unfortunately, the nation’s idealistic enthusiasm lasted for a fleeting moment in time and the Schools quickly fell out of favor; they were left to decay before even being completed. Today, following nearly four decades of neglect, the architects have returned to try and bring these derelict schools to back to their intended glory.

School of Ballet by Vittorio Garatti . Image © John Loomis: Revolution of Forms Site plan. Image © John Loomis: Revolution of Forms School of Modern Dance by Ricardo PorroSchool of Modern Dance by Ricardo Porro. Image © Adrián MALLOL i MORETTI School of Plastic Arts by Ricardo Porro. Image © Norma Barbacci/World Monuments Fund