Bonding Bricks

In October 2012, lecturer Jan Peter Wingender and Udo Garritzman (member of the knowledge circle) gave a lecture at the conference ‘Building Bricks’ at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. The theme of the conference followed on naturally from the research project of the research group ‘An Exacting Material: Tectonics in Contemporary Brick Architecture’.

During his lecture, Jan Peter Wingender briefly described the changing thoughts on brick and brick use in the Netherlands in the last 100 years. After that, he presented the analysis methods that was applied in the exhibition ‘Brick Dresses’. The techniques of bearing, suspending, bonding and dilatation that are currently hidden behind a brick façade were in this way demonstrated. Wingender showed what these techniques mean to the design practice of Wingender Hovenier Architects.

Udo Garritzman presented his research into tectonics. He distinguishes between the tectonics of load-bearing and the tectonics of dressing. He sketched out the implications of both concepts for brick architecture and drew a line from historical examples to contemporary design practice. His contribution acted as a theoretical framework for the closing discussions during the conference in Copenhagen.

Other speakers (Stephen Bates, Johan Celsing, Jesper Gottlieb, Knut Hjeltnes, Nini Leimand, Borre Skodvin and Dominikus Stark) showed beautiful brick projects from their own design practices. The diversity in approach to brick architecture by the different bureaus was striking. This can be partly explained by the different contexts and preconditions of the projects. Those vary from Africa to Scandinavia and do not, for example, require heat-isolating walls. It is sometimes possibly due to willfulness and ingenuity.

For example, Knut Hjeltnes showed several private houses in Norway for which a building method was applied that is not known in the Netherlands. The projects were realised with half-brick bearing internal and external façades, which were connected with brick lanes. The delegation of the Academy returned from the conference with lots of new knowledge and inspiration.