Brick architecture continues to shine in extraordinary buildings around the world as architects employ this ancient material in innovative and astounding ways.
Here are seven examples of our favourite brick architecture from around the globe:
1. Wegmans Hall
Where: University of Rochester, New York State, US
Architect: Kennedy & Violich
Home to the Goergen Institute for Data Science, this building utilises red bricks as “digital pixels” across its façade, laid in running and Flemish bond patterns, the latter zones featuring projecting header bricks. Depending on the time of day, the shadows from the header bricks make for another layer of interest, or, as architects Kennedy & Violich put it, create “dynamic, textural surfaces that communicate natural environmental data across the days and seasons”.
2. Arc by Crown Group
Where: Sydney, Australia
Architect: Koichi Takada
This development, straddling Kent and Clarence streets in Sydney’s CBD, features two distinct components: a brick “podium” created with 300,000 handcrafted artisanal bricks by Brickworks, topped with two soaring glass and steel residential and hotel towers. A major award winner, including The Hornbury Hunt Commercial gong in the 2019 Think Brick awards.
3. Cambridge Central Mosque
Where: Cambridge, UK
Architect: Marks Barfield
To design a “mosque for the 21st century” London practice Marks Barfield drew on both Islamic and British architectural traditions. Its brick exterior features protruding headers that form geometric patterns echoing Arabic calligraphy, while the internal structure consists of tree-like timber columns that support the roof using, as the architects write, “an interlaced octagonal lattice vault structure evocative of English Gothic fan vaulting”. It is also the first purpose-built mosque within the city of Cambridge.
4. Sydney Rail Operations Centre (ROC)
Where: Sydney, Australia
Architect: Smart Design Studio/Jacobs
This monolithic building in Sydney’s Green Square precinct has been nicknamed “Red Roc” after its monumental red-brick walls, punctuated by oversized arches. The city’s old railway stations provided inspiration for the design, says the studio: “By evoking the audacious architectural and engineering achievements of railway buildings from a bygone era, our design celebrates the heroic scale and confidence of a remarkable modern building.” Indeed.
Where: Tehran, Iran
Architect: Fundamental Approach
Angular screens of perforated brick transform this eight-storey apartment building in Tehran from the ordinary to the extraordinary. The screens work on a multitude of levels: they let the views in, but keep the spaces private; they expand the internal borders of the apartment; and they act as climate controls. Says architect Mohsen Kazemianfard: “In winter, the porous brick skin lets the light come … not only to brighten the space but also to warm the area. In the summer, the thickness of the brick wall prevents the sun coming in and just lets the light brighten the interior space”.
6. Veterinary Medical Centre
Where: Ohio State University, Ohio, US
Architect: Prospectus/Smith-Miller + Hawkinson
Winner of the bronze award for educational constructions in the 2018 Brick in Architecture awards is this extension to the Ohio State University’s Veterinary Clinical Sciences Building. The extension echoes the building’s 1970s origins, says Smith-Miller + Hawkinson: “A … cantilevered volume, clad in alternating and offset brick veneer panels and glass window wall sits lightly on a monolithic base, whose brick envelope and narrow windows recall the Hospital’s original hermetic and bearing wall design”.
Where: Mexico City, Mexico
Architect: CPDA Arquitectos
A “double skin” of red-tinted concrete exterior walls and red-brick interior walls forms the street-front façade of this new apartment building in the bohemian San Rafael precinct of Mexico City. The concrete serves to block direct sunlight, add privacy and lessen street noise. Balconies, courtyards and interior patios, red metal railings and black aluminium window frames give the building its distinct architectural flavour.