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Brick Awards: the Commercial shortlist

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Five projects make up the shortlist for the Commercial category at this year’s Brick Awards. These buildings were designed for commercial use but have taken into account not only aesthetic potential, but the influence the property could have on those who work in them and those who pass by. Each project is original in its approach to incorporating clay brick, earning their places on this one of the most hotly contested Brick Award shortlists.

“The Commercial Building award is always an important category of the Brick Awards, comprising strong entries from across the industry. This year’s shortlist is certainly no different, with varied design approaches used to create some very striking results demonstrating the amazing range and possibility of the material.” – Alex Gordon, Jestico + Whiles and 2017 Brick Awards Judge.

First in our round up of the shortlist is 1 King William Street. The project involved the extension and reinvention of a 1920s Grade II listed building and a 1990s adjoining building into high-specification office space within the heart of the Bank Conservation Area. The facade is made up of hand-set piers and brick faced pre-cast concrete spandrels. The decision to use pre-cast facades was developed in conjunction with Arup Facades at design stage. Utilising pre-cast elements offered cost and programme benefits whilst preserving the handcrafted character of handset brickwork, the depth and distinction drawn from Michelmersh's Bespoke Stamford Buff bricks.

GT3 Architects were keen to make sure their new building for Marks & Spencer in Northallerton reflected the historic character of the town. They were looking for a brick with a varied colour and texture and a tumbled finish and eventually chose a locally-sourced Ibstock - Birtley Olde English Buff. Not only does this brick meet the aesthetic and performance criteria they were seeking but the proximity to the site ensured that the project would support the local economy and reduce carbon emissions during transport.

A key principle of the design of Thirty Broadwick was to weave some of Soho’s history into the character of the building. Architect’s Emrys took inspiration from the shape of a dart or pleat used in the local fashion and garment industry as a form within the architecture. The 'raw yet refined' aesthetic of brick has contributed greatly to an elegant and harmonised building, achieved through the use of Ibstock's white and green glazed bricks, which add a distinct contrast cleverly stitched into the fabric of this Soho streetscape.

Also shortlisted is Chester Storyhouse. The project encompasses a renovation of the existing Odeon building in the heart of Chester, which has also been extended to facilitate a broader range of performing arts. The new brickwork, comprising Furness Brick & Tile Co Ltd bricks, sits alongside the existing clay and has created an iconic building which complements not only the surrounding architecture but represents a landmark in Chester in both senses of the word.

Rounding up the category is Victoria Gate Arcade, the latest of Leeds’ landmarks and a project of such scale and complexity that 3D software was used to plot and place every individual brick. There were approximately 360,000 used in total across 550 precast panels, which include Ketley's bespoke bricks and specials in a blend of light and dark, as well as brick slips. The project is a fine example of the way in which precast technologies can complement the specification and application of established building products. The innovative design of pleated brickwork sits harmoniously with the richly textured historic brick of the surrounding architecture.

Click here to view the shortlist in full


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