The facade of the Curving House by Joho Architecture in South Korea

A Brick for All Seasons

For almost 10,000 years – whenever natural stone has been unavailable – man has resorted to using brick wherever the aim was to create buildings that would be enduring, monumental and symbolic in character.

It is therefore appropriate that we should dedicate a newsletter to this ‘material’, especially as contemporary architecture seems to have rediscovered its enthusiasm for brick. Our leading article itself demonstrates that brick – in all its variations in size, colour and surface finish, as well as in the nature of the craftsmanship with which it is worked – has established a firm place for itself in modern architecture, in each case revealing its superiority over a wide range of younger materials.

Contents in brief:

  • Agenda September-October 2014
  • Piling Them High: Why Architects Are Rediscovering the Humble Brick
  • 
More articles from Architonic's 'News & Trends'
  • Inspiring Search Results N° 32: Parasols
  • Inspiring Spaces N° 24: Detached houses
  • Architecture and Design Projects on Architonic

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Agenda September–October 2014

Maison et Objet 2014, Paris FR
5 - 9 September 2014

Brussels Design September 2014, BE
9 - 30 September 2014

100% Design 2014, London UK
17 - 20 September 2014

Tent / Superbrands 2014, London UK
18 - 21 September 2014

Cersaie 2014, Bologna IT
22 - 26 September 2014

Belgrade Design Week 2014, SR
6 - 11 October 2014

Interieur 2014, Kortrijk BE
17 - 26 October 2014

Blickfang 2014, Vienna AT
17 - 19 October 2014

21 - 25 October 2014
 

Piling Them High: Why Architects Are Rediscovering the Humble Brick

Bricks in contemporary architecture may be saddled with a reputation for retrograde traditionalism — well, the oldest, discovered ones date from before 7500BC. Or they are associated with architecturally unimaginative housing estates. But, today, many forward-looking architects can’t get enough of the humble brick. (Text by Dominic Lutyens)

O’Donnell + Tuomey’s Saw Swee Hock Student Centre demonstrates the flexibility of bricks; photos: Dennis Gilbert/VIEWpictures.co.uk

True, modernist architects who wanted their buildings to be light-filled often eschewed the use of fired bricks because of their opacity or unwelcome associations with the past — think Pierre Chareau and Bernard Bijvoet’s 1932 Maison de Verre in Paris, constructed from glass blocks.

Not that all modernists felt this way. It’s perhaps not surprising that Alvar Aalto, who pioneered a more organic take on modernism, tested out the aesthetic possibilities of brickwork at his 1953 Muuratsalo Experimental House in Finland. Wishing to marry the building’s aesthetic to its ruggedly natural surroundings, Aalto finished the walls with a multitude of free-form brick patterns. And Louis Kahn’s use of local brick and concrete for his design for the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad, India (begun in 1962) nods to the country’s vernacular architecture yet looks modernist in its simplicity. Gargantuan openings in its façade provide natural ventilation that offsets the bricks’ thermal mass.

The semi-transparent facade of Wise Architecture’s  ABC Building in Seoul reveals the position of the staircase — fronted by solid brickwork — behind it

Since the start of his collaboration with Helga Timmermann in 1984, German architect Hans Kollhoff has used bricks to create buildings in a classical style. His high-rise Kollhoff-Tower on Berlin’s Potsdamer Platz, which recalls an American Art Deco skyscraper, is made of peat-fired, rust-red bricks, almost in defiance of the comparatively high-tech structures of Renzo Piano and Richard Rogers nearby. However, Kollhoff’s classical approach has received brickbats for appearing retrograde.

Chris Dyson Architects’ recently built extension to a Georgian terraced house in London is designed to blend as authentically as possible with the surrounding architecture

Today, architects increasingly recognise that bricks have positive attributes. A new-build in an area where brick buildings already exists acknowledges its context. And, as compact, modular building blocks, bricks offer limitless flexibility to architects who want to create idiosyncratically sculptural, textured or patterned buildings.

World Architecture Festival 2014, 1–3 October 2014, Marina Bay Sands, Singapore

World Architecture Festival is the largest festival and live awards for the global architecture community. WAF 2014 is set to be a heart stopping, adrenaline pumping, career affirming explosion of talent, inspiration and creativity. World Architecture Festival is a unique meeting point for architects, suppliers and clients. Now in its seventh year WAF has been bringing the architectural community together to celebrate, learn and connect since 2008 and is your passport to the international architecture scene.

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Further articles from Architonic's 'News & Trends'

London – Generator of Architectural Impulses for the Modern World?

‘The people did not like St Paul’s. They were against the Eiffel Tower. They liked neither the Sydney Opera House nor the Centre Pompidou. But today, millions of photos of these buildings are sent around the world via e-mail and by phone.’ 

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Inspiring Search Results  N° 32

Parasols

Inspiring Spaces N° 24

Detached houses

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Architecture and Design Projects on Architonic

Stefan Forster Architekten

Wohnhaus Westgarten II | Frankfurt, Germany | 2013
photographer: Lisa Farkas

Florian Holzherr Photography

NY Community Cafe  | Buffalo, USA | 2014
photographer: Florian Holzherr