A challenge to the familiar image

Brick has huge creative as well as practical potential, says Hugh Pearman

In partnership with

Brick is such a familiar material. But I bet you’ve never seen it used in the way that sculptor Alex Chinneck does, confounding our expectations of the material to produce playful illusions that amuse and intrigue. 

Chinneck is taking part in an exhibition of work by artists who use brick as part of their creative practices. Organised to coincide with the Brick Development Association’s Design Day – Brick Works! on June 16, the show – at The Building Centre in London – aims to stimulate ideas on the creative use of brick.

Of course architects are unlikely to be melting brick façades or flipping elevations as Chinneck has. But there is huge scope for exploiting the material’s creative potential as well as its practical virtues, spurred on most notably by the recent success of O’Donnell + Tuomey’s stunning perforated façade for the LSE’s Saw Swee Hock student centre. And one of the most prominent new London office developments to complete last year, Turnmill, is resplendent in thousands of Roman bricks. 

This supplement, published in collaboration with the Brick Development Association, should help stimulate some further creative responses. When we asked speakers at the BDA Design Day – Brick Works! to nominate their favourite bricks and brick buildings, we were inundated with enthusiastic responses. Clamp-fired, heritage, glazed, everyone has a special favourite. 

But choosing the right brick is just part of the story; it’s what you do with it that really counts. We hope you find some inspiration in the projects featured here.

Hugh Pearman 

Editor, The RIBA Journal