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Brick's benefaction to the learning environment

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The Education Building category of the Brick Awards is always hotly contested and this year is no exception, comprising five shortlisted projects all of which put enhancing the educational environment front and centre of their concept. The shortlist exemplifies contextual sensitivity, each project designed to offer certainty to the end users while enhancing the environment, which is such an important factor in an educational setting. That’s not to mention of course the skill with which brick is used to realise the objective.

‘There are a variety of different approaches to the use of brick in this year’s Education category. Sheffield Hallam University adopts a bold diaper relief and polychromatic pattern exploring the area’s heritage, the Music Box has a more abstract slant to the treatment of its equally bold monochrome envelope. At Abingdon School, a specific brick works alongside timber elements to create a contextual palette for a new gateway building. Donhead Preparatory School also takes a similar route with its new addition and careful reworking of an existing school, where old and new brickwork nestle comfortably together. An altogether more robust approach at Moreland Primary School creates a bold new street frontage within its urban setting.’ – Jonathan Dawes, Cottrell & Vermeulen Architecture and Brick Awards Judge 2017.

Abingdon School

by Hopkins Architects, offers a distinct new facility within the existing site, one of the oldest schools in the country. Michelmersh bricks, Hampshire Stock Down Blends, were selected over the school’s existing campus brick stock on account of the exceptional colour match, the brick’s crispness, texture and clean arises.  The bricks complemented the braoder material palette, adding warmth and texture to the metalwork, timber, glass and zinc. The result is a high-quality finish to a building that embraces its historic backdrop.

Donhead Preparatory School

Phillips Tracey Architects, worked with staff and pupils at Donhead Preparatory School during the design process to create an extension to the existing structure and update the overall building to ensure coherence and accessibility, while retaining the original charm. A limited palette of materials provides suitable blends, augmented through the rich colour and texture of Michelmersh’s Charnwood Light Victorian Red Mix bricks. Reclaimed bricks were rendered and repointed, and Ibstock Brick specials were used for the Chapel, which acts as the centrepiece of the building.

Moreland Primary School

in Islington was designed by Haverstock and re-built on a smaller site so that the scheme could incorporate new housing. The bold design is predominantly brick built, using Ibstock Leicester Multi Pack bricks for the stretcher and header-bonded brickwork, which sits harmoniously alongside the buff-brick coloured backdrop of Moreland Street. The school now sits flush with the building line of the streetscape, and together with the use of vertical and horizontal brick piers, gives the building an imposing presence.

Sheffield Hallam University

Bond Bryan Architects designed this landmark development for Sheffield Hallam University, using an historic blueprint to create an exciting new urban structure. Brickwork is central to the success of the build and so working closely with both contractor and manufacturer was the crux of realising the project’s ambition. Forterra’s Dark Multi Smooth brick is used in a pattern of projecting headers with single and double cant brick to create depth and a sense of scale. Each brick was bespoke, which ensured the build mirrored the traditional brick appearance of adjacent heritage buildings.

The Music Box

A key component of the cubed shaped campus, designed by SPPARC Architecture for the London College of Creative Media (LCCM), was to bring music and architecture together and project a sense of playfulness. Ibstock’s DWhite Gloss WT10 glazed bricks were used in an oversized flemish bond to provide scale and boldness, arranged with a three-dimensional projecting pattern to offer an appearance of sheeted musical notes.  Guitar enthusiasts will also notice that the brick patterns resemble the guitar rift to the Eric Clapton classic, The White Room, by Cream.

If you are an architect or student of architecture click here to vote for one or more of these projects in the Architects’ Choice Award.

To see this year’s full shortlist click here.