Industry insider, Annette Forster, discusses this year’s Wienerberger Brick Awards…
The building industry is evolving. As we embrace new technologies such as BIM and continue the drive towards sustainable construction, naturally there is an increasing level of scrutiny placed on our buildings and the components we use. Through these fundamental changes to the core dynamics of our sector, one timeless building material is enduring – we’re talking about brick.
Clay brick has been at the heart of our organisation for over 200 years. It is a material that naturally delivers thermal insulation, durability and long-term value, but what people can often overlook is the potential brick offers from an perspective. At Wienerberger, we passionately believe in this potential, particularly in the context of residential design.
It is why, every two years, we host the Wienerberger Brick Awards, an international event recognising outstanding achievements in brick architecture. This year, we received a total of 600 entries from 55 countries. Narrowing these entries down to a shortlist of 50 was a challenging process – further evidence that brick truly is standing the test of time.
One of our Grand Prize winners – House 1014, located in the historic city of Granollers, Spain – sets an example of how to use leftover space in urban areas. Accessible from two streets and surrounded by firewalls, the architect had to work within a very narrow space – a width of just 6.5m.
In response to the client’s desire to divide the home into two independent zones, architectural office, HARQUITECTS created a sequence of alternating interior and exterior spaces – a private home and a guest house punctuated by terraces and atriums. This thought-provoking layout breaks down barriers between interior and exterior.
The orientation of the property and the surrounding walls had caused a distinct lack of natural light. This led the architect to set back the building and create patios on both street fronts. The new forecourts not only bring natural light into the room, but also aid natural ventilation.
Crucially, the use of natural brick in House 1014 conveys both tradition and modernism, substantially contributing to the overall appearance of the property.
The winning project in our Residential Use Category was Termitary House, an innovative build in Vietnam. Termitary stands for the layout of the house – corridors, galleries and small rooms lead to one central room, which resembles the building plan of a termite mound. Similarities can also be found in the ventilation shafts and that all building materials come from the surrounding area.
Located in a tropical monsoon climate, the house is built entirely of brick so it responds to the extreme climatic conditions and relates to historic examples in Central Vietnam. It has an extremely economical layout with bathrooms, living and sleeping areas; an office, a small library and a prayer room have also been incorporated into the limited space.
Another special feature of the house are the openings in the roof and the perforated brick walls, which provide lighting and ventilation in all areas. When the wind blows along the outside of these openings, the flow of air is directed through the interior. This helps to cool the rooms without requiring any energy input.
These award-winning projects provide emphatic examples of how brickwork – as both a practical building material and a medium for forward-thinking aesthetic design – continues to deliver innovation, versatility and economy and at the forefront of our industry.
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