Innovative brick designs like the Cool Brick are taking architecture to another level. Photo credit: Emerging Objects
Gone are the days when bricks were designed to sit layered on top of each other to create a wall and hold up your roof. Welcome to the 21st century, where the best teams around the world have created everything from new brick architecture to a 3D thermal brick design. It seems the simple brick is changing the building industry.
One of the newest ideas to reach consumer interest is the 3D thermal design aptly named ‘Cool Brick’. According to the Oakland based company who developed the concept, the ceramic brick has a porous design to soak up water. When air passes through, the water held within the pores evaporates and allows for a cooling effect to occur .
Embossed brick is one of the latest products on the market and one of the best options for designers who want to add creativity and depth to their buildings. Embossed brick involves the carving, moulding or stamping of a design onto a brick. One of the biggest projects in which the new design has been employed includes the recent construction of a nursing home. Designers wanted to make the building look like a beach house rather than the typical medico-centric model most nursing homes use. The embossed brick has allowed for the exterior of the building to look more like wood planks rather than brick. Three different embossed patterns were utilised to ensure the 'timber' exterior looked realistic.
The PolyBrick is a modern, one-of-a-kind design, developed to use interlocking ceramic bricks. The bricks are lightweight, need no mortar and are eco-friendly. According to Sabin Design Lab who developed the brick: “It will allow for the production of ceramic wall assemblies that are robust and high strength due to the novel implementation of highly complex and organic generative design strategies that are also simply and economically produced. … 3-D printing a llows us to build and design like nature does...”
However what is not so natural is what the research lab at Cornell University has been experimenting with. The newest model of the PolyBrick has been built with dovetail joints to fit the bricks together without mortar. The brick itself is constructed using a combination of clay, maltodextrin and vodka. The use of such unusual yet highly effective materials allows the cost of each brick to be less than $4. However it is an extremely delicate process. Once the mixture has been added to the printer, specific algorithms are used to ensure the specific product is produced. Once the brick has been printed, it needs to be carefully moved to be fired (which sets the brick) – using the incorrect technique will cause the brick to warp and ultimately become useless. This brick isn’t on the market yet, however demonstrations have been set for this year.
Another technological development in the brick world is the 'Save Water Brick'. Designed by Jin-young Yoon and Jeongwoong Kwon, the new and unique design not only stores water, but transfers it to a secondary location like an underground waterway or tank. The design consists of pulverised dried/rotten leaves and recycled plastic bottles that have been blended to allow for easy moulding. The hope is for the unique design to hit the market soon and be used in residential buildings
Building Bytes are ceramic bricks created with help of a desktop sized printer. The Bytes are designed using a liquid slip cast recipe of earthenware ceramics usually used in mould-making. The uniformity and variation (specific design) of the bricks have already been tested, however the project is still in the research and development phase. Consumers are hoping the new technology hits the market soon.
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Said to out-perform any other brick on the market, the new ‘Super Insulating Block’ has set the benchmark for other products in the category. This modern brick is said to not only insulate, but provide thermal mass (energy which can be gained and stored for later use) to the property. The 110mm styrene brick also creates a waterproof barrier in the mortar joint to ensure peace of mind to property residents. According to Timbercrete, the brick is also extremely eco-friendly and will significantly reduce carbon gas emissions. This is achieved by using materials such as “…timber waste and sequestering or trapping the carbon in a cementitious tomb”.