bricks

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Art Design History

Industrial Materials Reconstruct Local History on a Monumental Scale in Public Sculptures by David Mach

November 30, 2022

Kate Mothes

A sculpture of a train made out of bricks.

“Brick Train” (1997) in Darlington. All images © David Mach

Known for sculptures and assemblages that utilize everyday objects like bricks, coat hangers, and matches, Scottish artist David Mach has embarked on numerous large-scale, public projects that draw inspiration from local history. In his monumental “Brick Train” in Darlington, he taps into regional heritage through the use of red brick and the depiction of a life-size steam locomotive. The industrial revolution of the 19th century spurred a need to move materials like coal and steel around the country, and the first railway to use steam engines to transport passengers also originated in the area. In the U.K., red bricks have prevailed as the most popular building material, constructing long rows of terraced homes that characterize the urban landscape.

Further north in Edinburgh, the architectonic “Temple at Tyre” was constructed from dozens of shipping containers and over 8,000 tires (or tyres) in the port of Leith, a critical international shipping hub. It was installed for a month and illuminated at night to rival the city’s major landmarks, like the neoclassical National Monument on Calton Hill. The containers, which are also the focus of a proposed building in an Edinburgh business park, are immense reminders of the trade and commerce that the city is built upon.

Mach currently has additional projects in the works in London, Mauritius, and Syria. Heavy Metal, a solo exhibition opening at Pangolin London in January will highlight ongoing work in a showcase of maquettes and prints. You can find more of the artist’s work on his website.

 

A public sculpture of a row of telephone boxes tipping over like dominoes.

“Out of Order” (1989) in Kingston-upon-Thames. Photograph by Mike Longhurst

A neoclassical facade made out of brick.

“Temple of Bricks,” maquette, 93.5 x 111 x18 centimeters

A photograph of a sculpture of a train made from bricks, covered in snow.

“Brick Train”

A digital rendering of a contemporary building made out of a pile of shipping containers.

Render for Mach1, Edinburgh Park, Edinburgh

An installation in a port of dozens of shipping containers with a neoclassical monument on top made out of tires.

“The Temple at Tyre” (1994) installed at Leith, Edinburgh

A sculpture of a row of telephone boxes that are falling onto one another like dominoes.

“Out of Order.” Photograph by Mike Longhurst

An installation in a port of dozens of shipping containers with a neoclassical monument on top made out of tires.

“The Temple at Tyre”

 

 

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Design

Tiny Holes Drilled into Bricks Provide Miniature Homes for Solitary Bees

January 24, 2022

Grace Ebert

All images © Green&Blue, shared with permission

An innovative creation of Cornwall-based Green&Blue, Bee Bricks are designed to establish homes within homes. The architectural building blocks can be layered with more typical materials and feature holes of various sizes that allow the fuzzy, winged insects a space for nesting. These multi-purpose bricks are especially crucial as bee populations dwindle due to habitat loss and a changing climate.

Burrowing inches into the blocks made of reclaimed concrete, the narrow openings are targeted at red masons, leafcutters, and other cavity-nesters that live outside of colonies. It’s estimated that the U.K. alone boasts 250 solitary species, which tend to be better pollinators than their social counterparts because they gather the sticky substance from multiple sources, which improves biodiversity.

Bee Bricks have made headlines in recent days after the city of Brighton and Hove announced that all new buildings more than five-meters-tall have to include some form of housing for the solitary creatures. The council’s move follows similar policies in Dorset and Cornwall, in addition to guidelines that establish homes for swifts in new buildings, as well.

Watch the video below to see the bricks, which are available in multiple colors, in use. You also might enjoy these portraits captured inside a home for solitary bees.

 

 

 



Design

Comprised of Undulating Bricks, A Facade Allows Light to Stream in Without Sacrificing Privacy

November 23, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images courtesy of A.P.P. Architects & Associates

The innovative project of Farhad Mirzaie and the firm A.P.P. Architects & Associates, “Revolving Bricks Serai” is a dynamic office building in Arak, a city largely known as the industrial capital of Iran. Nestled within a residential area, the structure is designed with privacy in mind and features a rippling, wave-like facade made of brick that allows natural light to stream through while obstructing outside viewers from peering into the space.

The individual blocks, which have ends painted in turquoise and azure, are arranged according to parametric design. A booming trend in architecture, the style generally focuses on sweeping, curved lines, forms simulating structures occurring in nature, and a consideration of how elements interact individually and as a whole. An algorithm determines many of today’s designs based on these geometric principles, although Antoni Gaudí is widely credited for pioneering analog methods with his upside-down modeling.

Find more of Mirzaie and his firm’s recent projects on Instagram. (via Jeroen Apers)

 

 

 



Design

Massive Curved Vaults Mimicking Traditional Kilns House a Jingdezhen Museum Dedicated to Porcelain Production

April 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images © Studio Zhu-Pei

Jingdezhen, Jiangxi, China is widely recognized as the porcelain capital of the world with a more than 2,000-year history of producing prized ceramics. As an homage to that tradition, architects from Studio Zhu-Pei constructed an open-air structure with towering arches mimicking traditional kilns. The expansive brick vaults now house the northern city’s Imperial Kiln Museum, which sits adjacent to the production sites used during the Ming and Qing dynasties.

To preserve and demarcate the existing ruins on the grounds, Studio Zhu-Pei configured the new building around the remnants, like courtyards and monuments embedded in the ground, in a way that brings together history and contemporary culture in a single space. Each of the curved structures, which is comprised of both recycled and new bricks, differs in volume and length, allowing light to stream in at varying angles throughout the day. The museum’s entrance is on the ground level so that the “experience of people entering it is the same as the past artisans,” the architects say in a statement.

Find more of Studio Zhu-Pei’s designs on its site and Instagram. (via Yellow Trace)

 

 

 



Design

A Nairobi Entrepreneur Is Recycling Plastic Waste into Bricks That Are More Durable Than Concrete

February 9, 2021

Grace Ebert

Collectively, we use a staggering amount of single-use plastic each year—we buy one million plastic bottles each minute around the world—most of which ends up in landfills, oceans, and other natural spaces. Nzambi Matee, a 29-year-old entrepreneur from Nairobi, is combatting this global crisis by recycling bags, containers, and other waste products into bricks used for patios and other construction projects.

Prior to launching her company, Gjenge Makers, Matee worked as a data analyst and oil-industry engineer. After encountering plastic waste along Nairobi’s streets, she decided to quit her job and created a small lab in her mother’s backyard, testing sand and plastic combinations. Matee eventually received a scholarship to study in the materials lab at the University of Colorado Boulder, where she ultimately developed a prototype for the machine that now produces the textured bricks.

Made from a combination of plastic and sand, the pavers have a melting point higher than 350°C and are more durable than their concrete counterparts. Matee and her team source much of the raw product from factories and recyclers, and sometimes it’s free, which allows the company to reduce the price point on the product and make it affordable for schools and homeowners. So far, Gjenge Makers has recycled more than 20 tons of plastic and created 112 job opportunities in the community.

“It is absurd that we still have this problem of providing decent shelter–a basic human need,” Matee said in a statement. “Plastic is a material that is misused and misunderstood. The potential is enormous, but its afterlife can be disastrous.”

Right now, the company generates between 1,000 and 1,500 bricks per day,  and Matee hopes to expand across Africa. You can see more of Gjenge Makers’ production and finished projects on Instagram. (via designboom)

 

Nzambi Matee. All images via Gjenge Makers

 

 

 



Design

Varied Bricks and Ceramic Blocks Comprise the Asymmetric Facade of a Spacious Community Center in Bengal

January 26, 2021

Grace Ebert

All images via Abin Design Studio

What began as a task to install a new parking structure in Bansberia, India quickly morphed into an open community center awash with patterned brickwork. Conceived by Abin Design Studio, “Gallery House” spans 380-square-meters and combines multiple masonry techniques to form the asymmetric facade. The Kolkata-based team alternated ceramic blocks created by a local artist and a mixture of rectangular, chevron, and curved bricks sourced from a nearby field, resulting in a variegated, textured structure that mimics the terracotta temples of Bengal.

Positioned opposite the gaping ground entrance, a large staircase spills into the street and offers a seating area for residents hoping to watch the yearly festivities that pass by the building. A spacious hall fills the first floor with a lounge, pantry, and multi-purpose area used for yoga and other classes on the upper stories. When community members head home after the day’s activities, the rooms are converted into dormitories for the staff.

Explore more of the studio’s projects that focus on gathering and social support on its site. (via designboom)