8 COMMENT Meeting brick aspirations

Andy Batterham of Ibstock looks at the ongoing renaissance in brick, and how providing for increasing demand for colours, as well as the trend for grey brick, is helping architects and specifiers reinvigorate this traditional building material


t is fair to say that brick is going through a renaissance. Even The Times recently reported on the substantial demand for brick built buildings throughout the supply chain. From archi- tects to builders down to home-buyers, there is a sense of a reinvigorated aesthetic appreciation of traditional building materi- als, and brick is at the forefront of this trend.

Localism’s role in specification

Why is there such renewed interest in brick, a material which many would already see as the natural choice for building? Firstly, local planning requirements, particularly in rural or historically sensitive locations, are stringent regarding the use of materials which fit in with the surrounding buildings. There is also a wider interest in the planning process on a community level since the adoption of the powers made available through the 2011 Localism Act, which allows communities to decide on the ‘look and feel’ of new developments as part of the Neighbourhood Planning process. This interest includes the specification of construction materials, right down to the finer details.

Planning regulations always have and will impact on the design, appearance and materials considered for use when building. But with the pursuit to use materials that blend with the local vernacular, brick is often the material that best offers a sense of familiarity for an envelope to blend into its surroundings.

Colourful thinking

It is this familiarity of bricks that means the likes of buff and rustic red brickwork will always be a popular choice of finish. And with the resurgence of brick, these colours have been the first to experience a rise in popularity from the palette available. But far from brick being the safe choice for buildings, some of the strongest opportunities for innovative brickwork – something that fits in with the local vernacular but also stands out with a sense of individuality – come from using a wider colour palette. This ranges from the ‘sympathetic’ to the ‘imaginative’; thus, meeting the more creative design aspirations of architects and homeowners.

The specification of bolder colours is encouraging a new



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