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Queen Elizabeth II,Bursledon Brickworks MuseumSouthampton

By chris
Bulletin image on display in the brick works museum

A break from our normal Brick Bulletin today, given the recent passing of Her Majesty the Queen. Originally a tribute for the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee, the image of the Queen’s head in brick relief is now a lasting memorial to our late Monarch, whose grace and service has inspired our nation.

This textured brick design using projecting brickwork elements, plays with the effects of light and shadows as the sun moves overhead to create a subtly changing façade. Using Ketley Brick’s newly developed ‘Brixel’ tools, the image of the Queen was converted into pixels at the resolution of 3 pixels per brick. This pixel image was then the basis for the translation into one of the 6 different brick types that made up the design of 676 units that stands 3.5 meters high by 3.5 meters wide.

Using the selected 2D image of the Queen, a silhouette was generated that was then pixelated into slices of 65mm square. Each brick for the final image would ultimately be one of six brick types, each with either one, three or no triangular projections in the combination of possible positions. To determine the location of each brick type in the design, a 3D model was generated to view and check the outcome with lighting tools showing the sun shining from different positions during the day, to see the length and position of the shadows. This visualisation tool gave confidence that the result, to divide the image into light and dark worked as expected before progressing to the next step. When determining the suitability of an image and how it might work once ‘Brixelled’, being able to visualise how the end result would look in a 3D model was a hugely valuable step. Subsequently a miniature test version of the Brixel relief pattern, made up of little brick pieces like a jigsaw, was 3D printed to a 1:10 scale, which also helped to see the effect of the transition of the sun across it and the way the shadows played out before the next step to manufacture and position the units.

The Brixel tool calculates the number of each of the 6 brick types and the relevant quantities of each unit to be extruded. Prior to delivery to site the design was put together on the ground with the brick units positioned with reference to the mock up and model. This confirmed how effective this new relief patterning has turned out to be. Conceived as a means for Company Logos or commemorative designs to be made a permanent corrugated feature in a wall, this first project of the most iconic of images, was a triumph and proved how effective this new design technology is at producing lenticular designs with an illusion of depth with the ability to change or move as they are viewed from different angles. This technique to create three-dimensional parallax panoramagrams, originated in the photographic world to produce stereoscopic imagery, now this can be realised in brickwork as a composition of light and shadows, without the need for a sculptor or artist on site.

Projecting brickwork has increased in popularity in recent years as architects have designed more elaborate and ambitious facades. Now Ketley Brick have opened up new possibilities for intricate, decorative brick designs and the Queen’s memorial sculpture demonstrates just how much detail you can achieve when designing with brick. Commercial Director Richard Dyer explains “We wanted to create a commemorative brickwork sculpture to celebrate the Platinum Jubilee, and we felt a sculpture of the Queen would be a good test of our new design technology as we would need to achieve a high level of detail for it to work effectively and with such a well-known image it would clearly demonstrate what is possible.”

Textured and projecting façades, bricks are exposed on their bed faces with a significantly greater degree of freeze thaw impact than conventional flush brickwork, with the potential for rainwater to sit on the top face, increasing the vulnerability of the brickwork to the effects of freezing and subsequent deterioration. Ketley’s bricks however are of “Class A” engineering quality, with extremely low water absorption, and able to withstand severe omnidirectional freeze-thawing conditions in exposed applications.

The Brixel techniques were developed as a concept following work done on some of the more ambitious textured brick projects in the UK in recent years, including the Victoria Arcade in Leeds and the new HMRC building, Three New Bailey in Salford. Ketley’s new ‘Brixel’ technology can be used to create sculptures in either full bricks or brick slips.

Ketley’s memorial sculpture of the Queen’s Head sculpture is now a lasting tribute to our late Monarch and is on display at The Brickworks Museum. You can see more here:

The nation and world have lost an icon whose grace, selfless duty and service means she will forever be embedded in our hearts and minds. We mourn her passing and already immortalised in so many ways, this brick sculpture is a tribute and celebration of a life that touched us all.

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