Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks

Pink Floyd's song “Another brick in the wall” criticizes an alienating and demotivating educational system. People, or children, are portrayed as bricks due to their homogeneity, whether in the way of living or thinking in a society that is not very fond of opposition. Bricks work very well in this comparison, having changed very little throughout history and around the world in their rectangular shapes. But that's not true of their colors. Although we tend to think of red when we talk about bricks, there are infinite possibilities of shades, depending on the composition and manufacturing process of the pieces.

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 3 of 21
White Pagoda Temple Hutong Courtyard Renovation / B.L.U.E. Architecture Studio. Image © Zhi Xia

The term brick refers to a block composed of dry clay, but is now also used informally to denote other chemically cured rectangular building blocks. The composition of clay bricks, the most traditional, as Tahsina Alam points out in her article for the Civil Engineering website, contains the following ingredients:

  • Silica (SiO2) 55%
  • Alumina (Al2O3) 30%
  • Iron oxide (Fe2O3) 8%
  • Magnesia (MgO) 5%
  • Lime (CaO) 1%
  • Organic Matter 1%

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 2 of 21
Unyang-dong Ria’s Two-Family House / Seoga Architecture. Image © Roh Kyung

Clay is a hydrated aluminum silicate that contains alumina and silica. The color of bricks is influenced by the chemical and mineral content of the raw materials, and by the temperature and type of kilns used. This is why it is common for there to be slight variations between lots of solid bricks, which often aesthetically appeal to designers. The more iron oxide in the composition, the redder the final piece. The more lime, the whiter it will become. As discussed in this article, "iron oxide gives the brick a red color upon burning when there is excess oxygen available, and dark brown or even black when oxygen is insufficient." Below, we have separated some examples of projects that use unconventional shades of bricks.

Black Brick

Black bricks are appealing due to their sober and minimalist aesthetic. Their story is odd. In London, solid brick buildings are quite common, built mainly during the 19th century. Because of the soot present in the highly polluted London air at the time, the bricks ended up with a grayish or even black hue. As conditions improved after 1956, the buildings that were cleaned returned to their original color.

But there is also a way to add pigments to the mix, to make the brick naturally black. This brick pigment is also known as black ceramic oxide, black clay oxide or simply K37. K37 is classified as a 'ferric manganese umber' stain, mainly composed of iron oxide, a non-toxic, stable and long-lasting material.

Housing BO / LRARCHITECTES

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 12 of 21
Housing BO / LRARCHITECTES. Image © Maxime Vermeulen

J House / Christoffersen & Weiling Architects

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 11 of 21
J House / Christoffersen & Weiling Architects. Image © Tina Stephansen

Seoho-dong Residence / a round architects

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 5 of 21
Seoho-dong Residence / a round architects. Image © Jooyoung Kim

Wing House / Urban Terrains Lab

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 10 of 21
Wing House / Urban Terrains Lab. Image © Hyosook Chin

Bruksgården / Petra Gipp Arkitektur

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 6 of 21
Bruksgården / Petra Gipp Arkitektur. Image © Jens Markus Lindhe

N House / SOSU ARCHITECTS

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 9 of 21
N House / SOSU ARCHITECTS. Image © Kyung Roh

Dutchess County Studio / GRT Architects

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 17 of 21
Dutchess County Studio / GRT Architects. Image © Ithai Schori

Casa Caté / S-AR

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 20 of 21
Casa Caté / S-AR. Image © Ana Cecilia Garza Villarreal

House Embracing Sky / ArchiWorkshop

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 18 of 21
House Embracing Sky / ArchiWorkshop. Image © Juneyoung Lim

Gray Brick

As for grayish bricks, they are generally blocks that do not use clay in their composition. There are three main types: concrete, sand-lime and fly ash bricks. In the case of concrete blocks, they can adopt several different formats, with a characteristic color due to the cement in the mixture. In sand-lime bricks, a mixture of lime, sand and water is pressed and hardened in ovens under steam pressure. In this case, the blocks turn to a light gray color. Fly ash bricks are formed from by-products of coal burning and other industries, consisting mainly of fly ash and cement. They weigh less than concrete and clay bricks and, due to their low absorption rates, withstand heat well. Their color and homogeneity are extremely pleasing visually.

Wildernesses Mews / Morris+Company

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 4 of 21
Wildernesses Mews / Morris+Company. Image © Jack Hobhouse

Projeto 03 / Kiko Salomão

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 13 of 21
Projeto 03 / Kiko Salomão. Image © Fran Parente

Unyang-dong Ria’s Two-Family House / Seoga Architecture

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 14 of 21
Unyang-dong Ria’s Two-Family House / Seoga Architecture. Image © Roh Kyung

De Zonnepoort / evr-Architecten

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 8 of 21
De Zonnepoort / evr-Architecten. Image © Stijn Bollaert

Brick House in Unjung-dong / Architects601

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 7 of 21
Brick House in Unjung-dong / Architects601. Image © Young-Chae Park

China Resources Archives Library / Studio Link-Arc

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 19 of 21
China Resources Archives Library / Studio Link-Arc. Image © Shengliang Su

ARI Apartments / Ola Studio

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 15 of 21
ARI Apartments / Ola Studio. Image © Paul Carland

Casa VIB / Estudio BaBo

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 16 of 21
Casa VIB / Estudio BaBo. Image Cortesia de Estudio BaBo

Jinlin Royal Park / Do Design Group

Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks - Image 21 of 21
Jinlin Royal Park / Do Design Group. Image © Jianghe Zeng

See other examples of exposed brick buildings in this My ArchDaily folder.

Image gallery

See allShow less
About this author
Cite: Souza, Eduardo. "Beyond Red: Architecture With Gray and Black Bricks" [Além do vermelho: arquiteturas com tijolos cinzas e pretos] 05 Oct 2021. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/969424/beyond-red-architecture-with-gray-and-black-bricks> ISSN 0719-8884

China Resources Archives Library / Studio Link-Arc. Image © Shengliang Su

非传统砖色,灰砖和黑砖建筑合集

You've started following your first account!

Did you know?

You'll now receive updates based on what you follow! Personalize your stream and start following your favorite authors, offices and users.