‘Brick offers a warm welcome home.’ This is the sentiment of homeowners across the UK and is keenly understood by housebuilders, with brick homes consistently proving themselves to be the most desirable on the housing market. The Brick Awards celebrate the best use of brick specifically in a residential capacity, through four categories: Individual Housing Development; Large Housing Development; Small Housing Development and Large House Builder. The residential categories highlight projects that best demonstrate the comfort and certainty for which clay brick is known.
One of the projects shortlisted for the Individual Housing Development Award is Mews House, London. Entered by Russell Jones Architects and using Wienerberger bricks, the project was designed with an economy of space, which required close attention to the balance between structural means and aesthetic potential.
The quality of the brickwork is complemented through the use of a carefully selected mortar, using white cement, lime and washed river sand, and a subtle manipulation of the surface texture using a method known in Scandinavia as ‘Sækkeskuring’. With a material palette and a design kept intentionally monochrome and uncomplicated, this compact two bedroom mews house now boasts a simple, striking finish.
Large Housing Development, Timekeepers Square in Manchester, is a development of 36 two, three and four bed townhouses adjacent to the Grade II listed St Phillips church; and the Georgian square which it fronts. The scheme forms part of the English Cities Fund’s Salford Central regeneration scheme, which is regenerating more than 50 acres of Salford’s historic centre. Neighbouring Georgian terraces provide precedent from which the development draws inspiration and informs a contemporary yet considered interpretation.
The new townhouses respond to the Georgian terraces in height and massing and have a strong vertical emphasis with repetitive and regular rhythm applied to the fenestration patterns. This is further emphasised by deep recesses to the windows and door sets which contrast and add detail to the flat façade treatments.
A key design objective was to create a scheme that is reflective of the area’s heritage, yet possesses a clear, contemporary identity. As such, Wienerberger’s Forum Smoked Branco brick was selected for its ability to mediate between the red brick of the Georgian houses and the sandstone of St Philips church.
Judge, Luke Tozer, highlights the importance of this category:
“The shortlised projects’ locations range from Aberdeen, Salford, Cambridge and London, with schemes from student housing to major regeneration projects. While the techniques and architectural vocabularies of the buildings vary, along with the palette of bricks chosen, what unites all the projects is the quality evident in the brickwork and the care and attention to detail of the built work.
In an era where housing is rightly high on the political agenda and in the public focus, each of the shortlisted projects is a strong contender and shows how the craft of designing and delivering homes with brickwork can make beautiful, robust and enduring places for people to live.”
Barretts Grove has been shortlisted for the Small Housing Development Award, a category for developments that comprise fewer than 25 units.
The scheme struck a chord with judges for its curious and playful finish. Enveloping the building is a non-structural façade of perforated brickwork made of Ibstock brick that matches the neighbouring buildings and acts as an aesthetic rain screen. Wicker-woven steel balconies are hung between every other aperture, softening the external material palette. They are offset in elevation allowing neighbours to communicate with each other, and large enough that they can be used for alfresco dining and entertaining.
The project required a comprehensive understanding of the materials and their structural properties as well as careful detailing of the exposed load-bearing elements, because many of the load-bearing elements are exposed, and each of the materials responds in their own way. The result is a seamless combination of structural form and architectural vision.
Rounding up our snapshot of the residential categories is that of Large House Builders. Barratt David Wilson Homes entered one of the shortlisted developments. The La Sagesse development is a collection of 48 homes, incorporating: new-build apartments; detached houses; four-storey townhouses; new-builds and renovated lodges. Judges were impressed by the developer’s sensitivity to the history of the site, demonstrated aptly through one of the properties, which is designed in a deliberately monasterial fashion in reference to the historically significant, religious influence on the area. Ibstock waterstruck Birtley Olde English and Birtley Olde English Buff bricks were chosen to ensure the development sits comfortably within its surroundings.