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The Oldest Man-Made Building Material
Chris van Uffelen – Braun Publishing 2019
“Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins.” Ludwig Mies van der Rohe

Buildings made of brick are found in very different epochs and cultures all over the world. Always astonishing, the qualities of brickwork continue to be explored by the world’s best architects until today. A key characteristic of the material’s success since time immemorial has always been the ease of planning due to its standardized production and the resulting harmonized building processes. In addition to longevity, amazing constructive possibilities as well as inexpensive and at the same time environmentally friendly production are among the qualities that are particularly valued today. Using computer software solutions, and even robots in some cases, today’s architects are deploying brick in inventive ways: perforated, pixelated, undulating and more.

The featured works from the past and present are a demonstration of how the use and popularity of bricks has not diminished one bit over the millennia, and is even gaining popularity today.

Brutalistic concrete house with softly bent brick cores
The house has been realized in between front gardens and a public park. It complements the two houses behind but also functions perfectly on its own. The specific implantation of the volumes preserves a maximum of openness between the public domain (park, street) and the various private gardens. The typology of a single floor pavilion was obtained by realizing part of the program underground. The open living space at garden level is the heart of the house and has an outside view in four directions. The basement floor has a completely different, more intimate organization and gets light from a sheltered patio that is excavated along the front side. The house is built with atypical building materials. The highly reflective windows and the (prefabricated) concrete elements give the project a brutalist look towards the public domain. On the north and garden side, the two closed brick cores give a rather soft and tactile impression. One of the most striking features of this project is perhaps the ad random use of different brick surpluses. They offer the house a unique striped look and texture.
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