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Building Products October 2017

BRICKS, BLOCKS AND PAVERS TREND SETTER Archaeologists have found evidence of brickworks in every civilisation from Ancient China onwards, and bricks still have a role to play in today’s built environment, as Jason Hughes explains. 62 BUILDING PRODUCTS | OCTOBER 2017 is already there. Some planners believe that reclaimed bricks must be used for a truly authentic finish, but given that old bricks can be prohibitively expensive, hard to find and vulnerable to theft, most planning departments are prepared to accept high quality new products. Fortunately it is now a simple matter to match new with old, as some brick manufacturers offer bricks in all sizes and finishes, bespoke or from stock, which satisfy the demands of even the pickiest planning officials. Architects and homeowners are happy to take notice of the planners’ advice. We have seen demand across the country for the ‘reclamation look’ from our architect and developer customers and through merchants. Whether it is a Premier League footballer building a new mansion, a selfbuilder working on a dream home, or a builder Bricks have been around for as long as humans have been recording history. So what could possibly be new about bricks? Well, the basic construction of today’s brick is much the same as it has ever been, but the way we use them has developed from providing primitive shelter to intricate and decorative construction. Their durability, weather-resistance and minimal maintenance requirement makes them one of the most popular building materials which has stood the test of time and the possibilities are only limited by the scope of the designer’s imagination. Worldwide, communities have used local materials which give the finished product its characteristic colour and texture. Of the five 7,000 year old bricks found in China, two were grey and three red – even back then, colour was an option! In the UK, small though it is, there is the possibility to map the country by the prevailing style of bricks. The regional variation of bricks was originally created due to lack of transport links - local clays were used for brick production which dictated the colours used. So in the North West the buildings are mostly built from a blend of reds, browns and oranges, Cambridgeshire’s use a brick with white, buff and pink undertones, and many London homes are made from London Yellow Stock. And we hardly notice – until there is a clash, a mismatch of colour or texture which leaps out from its neighbours. Problems matching the colour and size of old bricks have in the past resulted in some ugly extensions and developments. But now that does not often happen: controls are stricter and planning and conservation officers more knowledgeable on the available options, so they demand the materials used must blend with what


Building Products October 2017
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