Few human-made construction materials stand the test of time as the good-old, humble brick does. Historians believe bricks are the oldest-known construction materials. Archaeologists uncovered bricks dating back to 7,000 BC in some ancient settlements in present-day Southern Turkey.
The ancient craft of brick-making continued during the Middle Ages in Europe, and peaked during the Industrial Revolution in the 18th and 19th centuries, which brought significant advancements to brick production.
Nevertheless, after the 20th century, the popularity of brick dwindled as many modernists favored steel, glass, and concrete.
Concrete Benefits: Timeless, Sustainable, Durable
Despite the advancing building materials and construction technologies, brick is making a comeback. Its global market is growing at a steady and stable 3 percent a year, and for good reason: Made of clay and shale, brick is a sustainable, natural, and recyclable material. It can offer an incredible array of value and benefits to the construction projects where it’s employed, including durability, sound isolation, thermal performance, structural strength, and fire resistance.
Furthermore, brick retains an enormous aesthetic appeal: It’s a timeless and classic look that can enhance the visual appeal of a building. It comes in various colors, textures, and patterns, allowing for creative designs and architectural detailing.
The four following examples demonstrate how brick can be used in modern architecture to create visually striking and innovative designs while maintaining a connection to traditional construction materials.
4 Examples of Stunning Modern Buildings Using Brick
- Tate Modern — London, United Kingdom
This iconic modern art museum is housed in the former Bankside Power Station, which was converted into a museum space by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron in 2000.
The museum retains the original brick façade of the power station, creating a distinctive visual identity. The warm-colored brickwork pays homage to the building’s industrial past and contrasts with the modern additions.
- Car Park Katwolderplein — Zwolle, Netherlands
A car park made of brick in the city of Zwolle, in the Netherlands, proves that brick is not a material to support only an industrial aesthetic. The ultra-modern design of Katwolderplein, which was completed in 2017 by Dok Architects, was inspired by the caravansarais where voyagers of the Silk Road used to rest and recover from their arduous journeys in the desert.
Through its brick-made curves that resemble sand dunes, this fully sustainable car park can swallow 700 cars.
- Puni Whiskey Distillery — South Tyrol, Italy
Built in 2012 by Werner Tscholl, Puni whiskey distillery is Italy’s first and only kind of place that produces the beverage — and its expressive, contemporary architecture made with bricks certainly aligns with this uniqueness.
The eye-catching design resembles a cube but is built in a rigorously organized, geometric lattice structure that allows natural sunlight and ventilation to support the distilling process.
- Termeh Office Commercial Building — Hamedan, Iran
Situated in Hamedan, one of Iran’s most historical cities, the Termeh Office Commercial Building was completed by Ahmad Bathaei and Farshad Mehdizadeh Architects in 2015.
This unusual building is also a playful example of interactive architecture: Its undulating brick façade meets the ground. Through its climbable design, which mimics the historical urban patterns of Hamedan, the Termeh Office Commercial Building invites the public to sit, walk, or play on it.