For many in the design world, the return of brick is long overdue.
“Bricks have integrity as a building material,” says Melbourne-based architect Karen Abernethy, who was commended for her use of bricks in a residential project at the 2014 Think Brick Awards. “They have a historical familiarity that people can relate to and, at the same time, they offer up endless possibilities for reinterpretation.”
Choose your colour
Colours now span the spectrum from low-key white, dove grey and charcoal through to bold red, blue and purple, while finishes include everything from rustic sandstock to glazed metallics and supersmooth opal finishes.
Companies such as PGH Bricks & Pavers are working closely with colourists to ensure their new releases reflect the latest colour trends. And if you still can’t find the right style, companies such as Adbri Masonry will customise one for you.
Mortar comprises about 15 per cent of the total visible area of brickwork, making it an important design decision. White is no longer the only option; take your pick from cream, charcoal and grey, or have it colour-matched to your bricks.
The benefits of bricks
Bricks offer far more than just good looks, says Greg Weller, spokesperson for the Housing Industry Association (HIA). “They’re low-maintenance, fire-resistant, and have impressive thermal properties.”
As a building material, bricks score top marks for eco appeal: they are natural, durable, virtually maintenance-free, and extremely energy-efficient. They’re also made to last, with some having a 100-year guarantee.
It’s the new-look designer bricks creating a buzz among architects and builders, says Greg Weller.
“Bricks are being viewed not just for their structural purpose but for their design potential, too, with different-sized bricks used to create new effects (for example, slimline bricks to create the impression of higher walls).”
And it’s not just happening outside our homes, says Elizabeth McIntyre, CEO at Think Brick Australia.
“Increasingly, we’re seeing bricks used internally, whether it’s glazed bricks as kitchen splashbacks or as feature walls in media rooms, where they offer excellent acoustic protection. Polished concrete masonry used internally in this way looks incredibly luxurious.”
Architects are using bricks to create distinctive homes in all sorts of fresh and innovative ways, from mixing different colours, shapes and finishes in a single application to arranging them in an open-and- closed latticework formation to create intriguing plays of light and shadow while boosting natural ventilation.
They’re also creating subtle patterns by laying bricks at different depths and orientations and running a single-coloured brick in various sizes and finishes from floor to ceiling.
When it comes to brick shape, slim is definitely in, says Damian King, business development manager at Adbri Masonry.
“We’ve seen a rise in demand for thinner bricks, as well as more textures. As a result, we have smooth, honed, split and shotblast textures, and a raft of different colours, including ebony, oatmeal and steel. With all the colours, textures and sizes on offer, architects can use brick to create just about any design imaginable.”