Technical Study: Brick Bonds and Patterns
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Bricks are a modular building material and come in a huge range of colours, finishes, textures, sizes and types.
Brick is still a popular building material for modern construction to its longevity and connection to the existing building fabric. The following is an introductory guide to detailing bricks, looking at bonds, patterns, finishes and setting out.
Designers and architects are experimenting once again with this material. They are pushing the boundaries with modern brick patterns and techniques, to provide cost effective and attractive exteriors to buildings. The following are just a few of the most common brick bonds.
Header Stretcher Bond
Once you have chosen your brick bond, you can play around with the patterns and depth. Below are some examples of how to do this, including protruding hit and miss brickwork, corbelling and protruding bricks. As well as all the examples shown, twisting brickwork, brick slips or using special shaped bricks can also add depth to a façade.
Corbelling is traditionally seen in brick parapets to define the top of a wall and add further depth. Traditional structural corbelling can still be achieved with the simple rules that
- That the total overhang cannot exceed 1/3 of the wall depth (total wall depth ÷ 3, T/3).
- Each corbel much not exceed 25.4cm (1 inch).
However, more complicated corbelling can be achieved using precast brick panels, brick slips and other structural solutions. For example, Maccreanor Lavington (above middle and right) uses precast panels with the structural corbelled brickwork integrated into the concrete panel so each piece can be craned into place.
Hit and Miss Brickwork
Waterloo Lane Mews by Grafton Architects (pictured).
Royal Albert Wharf Phase 1 by Maccreanor Lavington
Brick Mortar Joints
The mortar joint in brickwork is a key part of a brickwork wall, helping to join the brickwork together structurally and keeping the rain and elements out of the interior. There are many ways of specifying the mortar joint for your brickwork. The colour, for example, can make a huge difference on the appearance of the wall. The joint profile also changes how the brickwork creates a shadow and depth.
Below are some of the most common types of mortar joint:
This type of joint is the most commonly used in which the face of the joint is compressed and provides the most durable profile.
This is the simplest but potentially least durable. As this joint has not been compressed by a finishing tool it should not be used in areas of severe exposure. However, a skilled bricklayer will be able to achieve this finish with a compressed joint.
This joint is recessed at the top slightly sloping to allow for the dispersion of rainwater. It has excellent strength and water resistance. ‘Perpends’ or the vertical joint should also have this profile.
The maximum depth of the recess should not exceed 4mm and should be ironed to compress the joint’s surface. When using this joint profile consideration should be given to the exposure of the wall and brick type.
There are a huge range of brick finishes including, glazed, waterstruck, handmade, rusticated, dragfaced, rolled, sandfaced and smooth. Whilst they may seem purely aesthetic, different finishes can be great for different environments. For example, glazed bricks are great at reflecting light and are commonly used in light wells or for special detailing around entrances. Rusticated and sandfaced bricks are a great way of adding texture to mass produced bricks, making them seem more like handmade ones and engineered smooth bricks are recommended in lower areas of walls where structural brickwork is required as they are stronger, more resistant to moisture and loading.
Below, transition between waterstruck and glazed bricks. Church (Årsta Kirke) by Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor
Brick detailing is an important part of the design process. There are many types of bricks, joints and styles that can give a building a unique character. Whether you are looking for inspiration to add some flair to your new build scheme or considering a unique renovation project, some of the above ideas will help get you started. If you want more inspiration on bricks, brick styles and applications and how they work with different architectural designs, be sure to follow us on Pinterest where we have hundreds of modern brick ideas!
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Written by Aida Rodriguez-Vega, architect and researcher. At the Detail Library, Aida keeps busy by carrying out technical research and drawing new details for the ever-growing library.
For More Inspiration…
For More Inspiration…
For more stunning photos of the projects featured in this article please visit the architects websites by following the links below.
Trafalgar Place by dRMM
Newport Street Gallery by Caruso St John
Neues Museum by David Chipperfield Architects
Herringbone House by Atelier Chanchan
Silchester Housing by Haworth Tompkins
Horsted Park by Proctor and Matthews Architects
House in Aggstall by Hild und K Architekten
The Corbelled Brick Extension by YARD Architects
Bloomsbury Student Halls by Maccreanor Lavington
Waterloo Lane Mews by Grafton Architects
Royal Albert Wharf by Maccreanor Lavington
Iberia Centre for Contemporary Art by Approach Architecture Studio
Cambridge College Halls by Walters and Cohen
TDO House by TDO
Kew House by Mclaren Excell
Turnmill by Piercy and Company
Rosyln Road by Magri Williams Architects
Church (Arsta Kirke) by Johan Celsing Arkitektkontor