Bricks: A Functional Material

Homes around the world support daily routine, shaped by local traditions and contemporary trends. They are places to celebrate, shelter, work and play, and need to be more than merely beautiful.

“In design, the principal ‘form follows function’ suggests that the shape of a building or object should be primarily based upon its intended purpose. So it’s so imperative that our homes are functional,” says Australian trend forecaster, Kim Chadwick.

And it’s more than just the layout of the house. “It incorporates the materials you use and the way in which you use them to create an intrinsic functioning home,” Kim adds. As well as affecting our movements and influencing our emotions, buildings respond to the demands of climate to keep us protected. Thus, utilising materials with good thermal mass, such as bricks, has many functional advantages.

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Benefits of Brick

A stylish and durable material, bricks have a host of functional benefits.

Fire Protection – Bricks are fired at temperatures up to 1200 degrees Celsius, meaning they are a non-combustible material. Brick is an excellent choice to resist or confine fire.
Double Brick – In a double brick dwelling, the two leaves of brick walls are separated by a cavity that reduces thermal transmission and prevents moisture being transferred directly from the outside wall face to the interior of the building.
Solid Bricks – Solid brick walls deliver good load bearing capacity, along with substantial thermal mass to provide a unique combination of structural, thermal and aesthetic benefits.
Sound Insulation – Brick walls provide excellent sound insulation. Due to their mass, they particularly help with low frequency noise.

Functionality: Past & Present

The history of functionality dates back to 15BCE from a philosophical perspective known as the Vitruvian classic goals of architecture. The three principles or goals, firmitas, utilitas and venustas, are conventionally translated to structural integrity, utility and beauty.

Today, architect and design writer Stephen Crafti believes we’re using materials in a smarter way. “Rather than having a brick wall hiding behind plaster and paint, people are stripping back the materials and utilising the rawness of brick. We are seeing kitchen splash backs in brick, and there is something lovely about touching an original wall,” he says.

“Sometimes it’s the simple things and the way simple materials are used in the maximum effect that inspires us in our homes.”

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