India’s romance with brick architecture began at the time of the colonial British rule. It soon became an expression of our great civilization. A key to understanding brick as a modern architectural material lies precisely in its dual potential to be both structure and cladding. The greater part of the history of Indian architecture, brick walls have assumed both roles, simultaneously supporting floors and roof while at the same time providing enclosure. Even today, India’s top architects are inheriting the mythos of brick architecture due to its plausible benefits such as good structural qualities, reasonable cost, flexibility, impact resistance, and visual appearance.
Brick architecture can plainly be defined as ‘beauty you can bank on’. This is because brick, unlike any other material, combines universal appeal with economic benefits. Apart from the fact that a synergy of aesthetics and functionality plays a very important role in the reasoning behind one’s choice for exposed brick architecture, here are just a few reasons why it is probably also the wisest choice for aevery structure.
“Bricks to me are like faces. All of them are made of burnt mud, but they vary slightly in shape and colour. I think these small variations give tremendous character to a wall made of thousands of bricks, so I never dream of covering such a unique and character creation with plaster, which is mainly dull and characterless. I like the contrast of textures of brick, of stone, of concrete, of wood….” - Architect Laurie Baker
In the age where everybody is in a race to be different, we suggest that you just be you. Whoever and whatever you are - simple, plain, ecstatic, ethnic, strong or beautiful like these simple ‘Facing bricks’ – just be. Let the buildings you build display your design and the owner’s personality. Facing bricks not only look beautiful, but they also lend a certain character to the building. We’d like to believe it brings out its soul. It transforms a building from ‘just another concrete block’ to ‘an exquisite adornment’ to the city.
As an architect or home maker, you have an immense responsibility of transforming the façade of the city. The way the city looks; the message it will convey to the people worldwide. It would be almost naïve to cover up the essence of the building in layers so thick that the integrity is overshadowed by the commercial need to plaster and paint.
The major concern of people intending to use facing bricks is durability. Can it withstand the rain? The scorching heat? Will it keep the occupants warm? Can it provide safety? Well, it can do not just that – but a whole lot more.
Bricks are one of the oldest known building materials dating back to 7000BC where they were first found in southern Turkey and around Jericho. The first bricks were sun dried mud bricks. Fired bricks were found to be more resistant to harsher weather conditions, which made them a much more reliable brick for use in permanent buildings, where mud bricks would not have been sufficient. Fired brick were also useful for absorbing any heat generated throughout the day, then releasing it at night.The Ancient Indians also used sun dried mud bricks as building materials, evidence of which can still be seen today at ruins such as Harappa Buhen and Mohenjo-daro.
The Romans further distinguished those which had been dried by the sun and air and those bricks which were burnt in a kiln. Preferring to make their bricks in the spring, the Romans held on to their bricks for 2 years before they were used or sold. They onlyused clay which was whitish or red for their bricks.
Using mobile kilns, the Romans were successful in introducing kiln fired bricks to the whole of the Roman Empire. The bricks were then stamped with the mark of the legion who supervised the brick production. These bricks differed from other ancient bricks in size and shape. Roman bricks were more commonly round, square, oblong, triangular or rectangular. The kiln fired bricks were generally 1 or 2 Roman foot by 1 Roman foot, but with some larger bricks at up to 3 Roman feet. The Romans preferred this type of brick making during the first century of their civilisation and used the bricks for public and private buildings all over the empire.
The Greeks also considered perpendicular brick walls more durable than stone walls and used them for public edifices. They also realised how the modern brick was less susceptible to erosion than the old marble walls.
During the 12th century bricks were reintroduced to northern Germany from northern Italy. This created the brick gothic period which was a reduced style of Gothic architecture previously very common in northern Europe. The buildings around this time were mainly built from fired red clay bricks. Brick Gothic style buildings can be found in the Baltic countries Sweden, Denmark, Poland, Germany, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Belarus and Russia. The brick gothic period can be categorized by the lack of figural architectural sculptures which had previously been carved in stone. The Gothic figures were impossible to create out of bulky bricks at that time, but could be identified by the use of split courses of bricks in varying colours, red bricks, glazed bricks and white lime plaster. Eventually special shaped bricks were introduced which would imitate the architectural sculptures.
Bricks are more commonly used in the construction of buildings than any other material except wood. Brick and terracotta architecture is dominant within its field and a great industry has developed and invested in the manufacture of many different types of bricks of all shapes and colours. With modern machinery, earth moving equipment, powerful electric motors and modern tunnel kilns, making bricks has become much more productive and efficient. Bricks can be made from variety of materials the most common being clay but also calcium silicate and concrete. With clay bricks being the more popular, they are now manufactured using three processes soft mud, dry press and extrusion, hand made.
Good quality bricks have a major advantage over stone and other cement based building material as they are reliable, weather resistant and can tolerate certain acids, pollution and fire. Bricks can be made to any specification in colour, size and shape which makes bricks easier to build with than stone and cement based building materials. Brickwork is also much cheaper than cut stone work.