Design, durability, thermal comfort, sustainabilityHome >> Why Brick ? » Design, durability, thermal comfort, sustainability
For any number of reasons, including sustainability , durability, thermal comfort and the many design possibilities. No other building materials tick quite as many boxes.
- Thermal Comfort
- Weather Proof
- Age Proof
- No Rust
- No Rot or Decay
- No Bending
- No Twisting
- No Warping
- Fire Proof
Design (Click for Details)icon
The great American architect Louise Kahn said of his renowned Philips Exeter Library
building, built in the early 1970's, "the weight of the brick makes it dance like a fairy above
and groan below".
Brick has long been a popular choice with architects and building designers because it blends easily with existing buildings while offering endless sculptural capabilities as well as intricate detailing.
The latest trends in open plan living are easily achieved with brick and there is the added benefit of excellent sound insulation. There are now over 800 colours to choose from and many different finishes from sleek glossy blacks and metallics to rough-hewn rustic bricks with a hand-crafted appearance.
Whether the site is a contemporary cliff-top retreat, inner-city live/work terrace, school, art gallery or heritage restoration project, there are bricks to suit any building style.
Visit our showcase for examples and our About Face project for inspiration click here.
Now, more than ever, climate design is a critical element to the modern design process. Climate data however has often been poorly presented, too technical or not easily accessible. Think Brick Australia is developing a guide for architects and building designers as part of an eight year programme of research in collaboration with The University of Newcastle. 71 years of climate data from the Bureau of Meteorology was sourced and analysed using tools such as bioclimatic charts and Mahoney tables to formulate practical design strategies for the South East Queensland climate.
This guide is available for Perth and Brisbane to date and can be obtained by contacting Think Brick Australia. In early 2008 the guide will be available as an online tool also.
Durability (Click for Details)icon
Brick is permanent. Once it's built it remains weatherproof and age proof. Brick doesn't get tired like man-made materials, so it requires virtually no upkeep or repairs. Bricks don't rust or erode, rot or decay, bend, twist or warp. Brick is a great protector - against the extremes of the Australian climate - heat and cold.
Australia is a country of extremes. At any one time, different parts of our continent can be experiencing bushfires, floods, severe storms and drought. And climate change researchers suggest that conditions may soon become even more extreme.
Many brick buildings only improve their appearance with age - The Great Wall of China is still looking great after more than 2,000 years.
Bricks are non-combustible and don't assist the spread of fire, making them ideal for building in bushfire-prone areas. Clay bricks normally do not suffer any structural damage after a fire and can be re-used even as load bearing walls. After all, Bricks are kiln-fired at temperatures up to 1200 degrees Celsius (a standard kitchen oven operates up to about 250 degrees Celsius).
Bricks alone won't fire proof a building - timber and plastic are flammable and glass shatters in the heat - but building in brick will provide a strong foundation to protecting your investment.
Bricks don't get attacked by pests - termites don't eat it, rats don't gnaw at it, birds can't stain it. Bricks are unattractive to termites because they can't chew them - unlike timber. Cavity brick construction offers the ultimate in termite resistance, by eliminating timber framing in walls.
Most brick colours and textures hide rain streaking, whereas plain or painted wall finishes such as render tend to show these and if damaged, are expensive and time-consuming to repair.
Salt-safe and exposure grade bricks
If you are building within 1km of surf coast and 100m of non-surf coast, or on harsh soils (such as former tip sites or converted industrial land) you should use Exposure Grade bricks. These bricks are made to withstand high salt conditions. In conditions like these, Exposure Grade bricks are the most affordable building material - designed for harsh Australian conditions.
Thermal Comfort (Click for Details)icon
Human thermal comfort is the state of mind that expresses satisfaction with the surrounding environment and was first explored by Ole Fanger in the 1970s. Fanger's studies of thermal comfort found that not everyone will be satisfied by a particular set of environmental conditions, but in ranges of conditions about 80% express satisfaction.
The Australian Greenhouse Office defines thermal mass in the following way. "Thermal Mass is the ability of a material to absorb heat energy. A lot of heat energy is required to change the temperature of high density materials like concrete, bricks and tiles. They are therefore said to have high thermal mass. Lightweight materials such as timber have low thermal mass. Appropriate use of thermal mass throughout your home can make a big difference to comfort and heating and cooling bills.
- Correct use of thermal mass moderates internal temperatures by averaging day/night (diurnal) extremes. This increases comfort and reduces energy costs.
- Poor use of thermal mass can exacerbate the worst extremes of the climate and can be a huge energy and comfort liability. It can radiate heat all night during a summer heatwave, or absorb all the heat you produce on a winter night."
- Incorporating materials with inherent thermal mass into buildings will reduce their reliance on mechanical heating and cooling which saves on energy consumption while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
- Research currently underway at The University of Newcastle proves this and has shown double brick or 'cavity' brick construction to be the most effective way of building thermal mass into the average family home.
- The research found that an insulated cavity brick home was almost 18 degrees Celsius cooler than the outside temperature, without any artificial cooling, as temperatures soared to record levels on New Years Day 2006.
Please visit the following resources if you wish to view more of the research.
Energy Efficiency and the Environment.pdf (1301 kb)
Designing For Climate - Thermal Comfort
Think Brick and Climate Design