Cuisine, culture, sightseeing, and engaging with the locals are all reasons people like to travel. The common factor that draws us to explore new places, however, is simply the chance to experience cities and landscapes unlike our own familiar surroundings. For example, when Chinese tourists can again visit Copenhagen, they may admire the waterside capital’s winding bike paths, lush green parks, and the Scandinavian brick traditions on display in Nyhavn. Likewise, a Danish tourist would surely be blown away by the breathtaking scale of Beijing, with it’s 9 million+ bicycles and the display of ancient Chinese culture juxtaposed with modern society.
The key ingredient at play here is atmosphere: the relationship between individuals and surroundings that creates a certain mood. The German philosopher Hermann Schmitz probably described it best, that atmospheres are emotions poured out spatially. An emotionally driven approach to the forming of spaces, deeper than just materials, is what creates atmosphere. For Randers Tegl, Scandinavian supplier of bricks to the European market, one atmospheric trend has begun to gain a foothold: brick ceilings. In this editorial we’ll explore different brick ceiling applications across Europe and the new architectural possibilities they convey.
Three Case Studies
The Compton Residential Building, UK
This ten-storey residential building in a London suburb is strongly influenced by Art Deco; its soft curves, geometric patterns and striking façade of cast aluminium come together to create a prestigious feel. Each of the 49 apartments was planned to take advantage of the views provided by the building’s curved bays, which are themselves imprinted with an Art Deco-style leaf pattern in reference to nearby Regents Park. At the ground level, a brick-ceilinged entrance canopy reaches out to welcome residents into the building. As the brick wraps around the front of the canopy to continue onto the ceiling, it’s lit elegantly from below and the pattern of the brick coursing seems to draw you in towards the front door.
Randers Tegl HQ, Denmark
The architectural vision behind Randers Tegl’s new headquarters in Hammershøj, Denmark, was named Supersize Bricks, meant to visually express the appearance of bricks on a building-sized scale. The administration building consists of four 'stacked bricks', but to make these stones habitable, they are scaled by a factor of 92. The proportions of the bricks have been preserved so that the appearance at a distance will have clear references to the format of a Danish brick – but at dimensions of 21x10x5 meters. The same expression is repeated on the production buildings, which simultaneously act as exhibition walls and demonstration areas for mortar types and curves.
The brick ceiling in the lobby includes integrated lighting fixtures and adds texture and warmth, creating a more intimate scale upon entering before the room opens up to a double-height space. As their headquarters, Randers Tegl took this opportunity to focus on technical details and specifications, and prefabricated brick ceilings are the only ones that meet their technical requirements. This brick ceiling was prefabricated off-site, which is necessary for the company to give a 100% guarantee for the application. Prefabrication means the ceilings are constructed under more highly controlled and predictable conditions with greater efficiency, eliminating the challenges and surprises inherent in building in the field.
The tile ceiling also acts as an acoustic attenuator and provides a fantastic sound experience, note the joint in the ceiling consists of ordinary air. The prefabricated brick ceiling elements retain the eminent properties of the brick and can be built into masonry constructions in a similar way as traditional masonry. These brick ceilings are only limited by the laws of gravity and the ability to mount them.
On a smaller scale, this Belgian villa still makes a bold statement embodying the concept of one million shades of white. Using Ultima bricks in full white, the architect has created relaxing spaces below the brick overhangs. Luxuriously blending the white brick with the black trim around the windows and doors, the architect created a unique indoor-outdoor space by including brick on both the ceiling and the ground. This brick ceiling was created using brick shells, rather than the whole bricks used in the two previous case studies.
The continuation of the brick from the facade onto the ceiling enhances the home’s modern, monolithic appearance. Surrounding brick surfaces on all sides at the main entrance create a feeling of enclosure while still outdoors, serving as a transitional space to ease the flow between outside and inside. From the entrance, the brick floor continues its flow indoors, inviting guests to the spacious kitchen and common area with panoramic views of the garden. From the living and dining area, floor-to-ceiling sliding doors lead to a brick-covered patio with an open fireplace completely made of bricks to enhance the cohesive, holistic aesthetic.