CPD Microlearning

Using Bricks to Create Today’s Architectural Heritage

Bricks have a huge cultural significance that has shaped our built environment for centuries. In many of our older cities, towns and villages, the challenge for architects is how can they take this cue to match their surroundings while creating their own design statement that will become part of tomorrow’s heritage.

As a building material, soft mud bricks have a character all of their own. Different parts of the country have different coloured bricks that create a distinct local look. This is because many of our older buildings relied on clay from local sources and the bricks manufactured from them vary visually depending on the mix of different minerals.

Cultural references

So, the light yellow, toned London stock brick and the red brick buildings of the Midlands can help define your local area. It creates character and a sense of belonging. In our guest blog “The Architect’s Choice” Ben Knight, director at dMFK observes “When used well, they (bricks) convey a sense of skill and craft that you don’t get with other materials, and there’s something poetic about the fact the raw material comes from the earth.”

Unique textures

But colour is only one aspect of a brick. Its texture creates a difference in light and shade that can alter a brick’s appearance.

Modern manufacturing of soft mud bricks provides you with numerous colours and textures, our own Ecostock range for example has 25 different colours and 7 different textures – all creating a unique brick. It means that you can match the local built landscape, but equally add your own design so that the building you create today becomes part of the evolving environment that it is set in.

Designing with bricks

This variety of colours and textures allow architects to design highly creative forms, patterns and rhythms in a façade.

You can take some of the design cues that you see in your surroundings, but you don’t need to be constrained by them. What you design in brick today becomes part of our cultural heritage for tomorrow.

There are a number of different aesthetics that you can create from manufactured bricks. Indeed, some of the textures even resemble that of reclaimed bricks for an authentic charm of their own, take a look at our stock thrown bricks for example. This process creates a brick that is slightly irregular in shape with a creased texture that replicates the appearance of handmade bricks.

Contrast this with wire cut bricks which have a smooth texture, many designers use them to create a cleaner more contemporary aesthetic. Others choose to use contrast in colour and texture to create a different look and feel, the options are endless.

Tailor made bricks

Sometimes though you may want a non-standard or tailor-made brick to add detail that can transform a great building into an extraordinary one. Our team at Cradley Special Brick can provide you with specials whether you need angled, rounded or shaped bricks, a different size or even a completely new design.

Seeking inspirational ideas

Over the years we have worked with architects to help them realise their vision. Whether it’s to create buildings that reflect the local character of their surroundings such as the Balmoral luxury care care home in Glasgow and The Works residential apartments, or for something that takes its design cues from the surroundings but then creates its own distinct vision such as York House, we can help you achieve your design.

Soft mud bricks have a character all of their own. We live in a country that is blessed by its history and this is reflected in our brick-built buildings. Many have been around for centuries. The question is how are you going to create tomorrow’s heritage out of what you design with bricks today?