Do you know the quote by Mies van der Rohe about brick? “How sensible is this small handy shape, so useful for every purpose! What logic in its bonding, pattern, and texture! What richness in the simplest wall surface! But what discipline this material imposes!” The brick industry rightly likes to quote to this passage from the architect’s inaugural address to students as the new director of architecture at the Armour Institute of Technology in Chicago in 1938. Even today, the “richness” that Mies described is far from exhausted in its variety; on the contrary, building with brick is currently being rediscovered.
In this issue, our essay “Ornament and Brickwork” considers the decorative possibilities of brick and their implementation, including the use of robotics to construct sculptural facades. Our project documentations illustrate how this material is being used to realize quite heterogeneous building typologies. Julia Liese curated the showcase of recent projects – including high-rise apartments in London and a retirement home in Alsace. They are all captivating in terms of their construction and material variations, refined details, special brick formats, and craftsmanship techniques. But how climate friendly are bricks? Optimizations in brick firing processes recently led to the first certified “climate-neutral” bricks on the market. We’ve brought together the latest developments in the brick industry for you. Is brickwork currently experiencing a renaissance? We hope you’ll find the answer to this question in these pages. Meanwhile, our special Green section hones in on climate protection. In the spotlight: the environmental footprint of the Financial Park office building in Stavanger, Norway.