August 2018

Brick Is The New Black

Written by: Michael Mattner

In the modern context, bricks are often used in modest low scale development; however, in the right setting brick can form part of an elegant composition responding to the prevailing architectural character of an area as well as potentially contributing to the future character.


Old Is New Again

Bricks have long been utilised as a building material, with fired bricks being used as early as 4000 BC and air-dried bricks being used much earlier than that. The Industrial Revolution saw the production and use of bricks rapidly escalate, and it is this time period which saw the humble brick leave an indelible mark on architecture and built form character.


Victorian terrace extension in North Melbourne by Matt Gibson Architecture and Design (Source: Architecture Australia, Derek Swalwell)

This Victoria terrace extension in North Melbourne highlights the elegance that brickwork can add to the modern form. The extensive use of glass at ground level allows the first-floor brick composition to float above in a simple yet sophisticated way.

The use of brick in this context responds to the existing immediate character given the two abutting properties utilise bricks for their extensions. The brickwork also responds to the character of the greater North Melbourne area where brick structures commonly piggyback Victorian terraces.


Man Made Meets Mother Nature

An excellent example of the use of brickwork to animate a building facade is the Bellbowrie Swimming Pool. These brick walls also contribute to the swimming pool being flood-resistant which was of the utmost importance during the Brisbane floods in 2011. 


Bellbowrie Swimming Pool by Bureau Proberts (Source: Architecture Australia)

This brickwork responds to the existing built form character of the area as the site is located in a residential pocket predominately comprised of brick clad dwellings. The brickwork also responds to the existing landscape character of the area as a pattern of the bricks is inspired by the flowering gums indigenous to the region. 


Outside The Box 

The Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) exemplifies the use of undulating brickwork to create a fluid form. A staggering 320,000 bricks were laid by hand for this project, and it is this attention to detail which results in the building's incredible texture. 


Dr Chau Chak Wing Building at UTS by Gehry Partners (Source: Architecture Australia, Peter Bennetts)

The use of bricks in this landmark building highlights that brickwork can not only be used to respond to existing character but that it can also be utilised to establish a preferred future built form character. This building stands out from its surrounds in no small part due to the use of bricks as the resultant form, materiality and detailed design all contribute to the development being an emphatic landmark within UTS. 

brick, design, character, sustainable, housing

June 2016

100 Resilient Cities

100 Resilient Cities is pioneered by the Rockefeller Foundation (100RC). It is dedicated to helping cities around the world become more resilient to the physical, social and economic challenges that are a growing part of the 21st Century.

100RC supports the adoption and incorporation of a view of resilience that includes not just the shocks—earthquakes, fires, floods, etc.—but also the stresses that weaken the fabric of a city on a day to day or cyclical basis.

On 1 June 2016 the City of Melbourne released its Resilience Strategy, Australia's first resilience strategy.

For more information visit:100 Resilient Cities

future proof, healthy cities, visioning

City ID

City ID develops creative solutions to make cities more welcoming, engaging and easier to navigate. This is done through creative information and wayfinding solutions.

social, urban design, planning, density, open space, infrastructure

May 2016

Urban Greening
in High Density

Image Source: Dezeen

High density living is increasingly becoming the norm for the millions of people that want to live in our global cities. People assume that they must give up their connection to nature in order to live in central locations within our cities. However, given the increase in the amount of high rise residential apartments, designers are starting to shift towards locating high density development in locations adjacent to parklands and open spaces and are including tree planting within high density residential developments in city centres creating the “Vertical Forest”.

Read more

March 2016

PX Podcasts

Planning Xchange delivers regular podcasts on a range of urban issues. They aim to provide monthly Podcasting episodes which are relevant to a range of audiences both within Australia and internationally. 

Our very own Mark Sheppard appeared in episode 14.

Check it out here.

urban design, planning melbourne, urban planning

February 2016

UN Sustainable

Video source: Paper City - An Urban Story

Cities are hubs for ideas, commerce, culture, science, productivity, social development and much more. At their best, cities have enabled people to advance socially and economically.

Read more

sustainable cities, safe cities, healthy cities, planning

September 2015

Urban Sculptures

Image source: Studio Roosegaarde

Air pollution is a problem that effects cities all over the world. With populations expected to keep increasing in urban areas, the problems associated with smog and poor air pollution will have consequences for years to come.

Read more

urban sculpture, urban art, clean living

Transforming Children’s Futures

Yared Wolde from the School of St Yared visited David Lock Associates to share the inspiring work he does in providing first-class, bilingual primary education to some of the poorest children in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

Read more

masterplanning, visioning, inspiration

July 2015

What makes a
Great Place

How do you identify or make a great place? How do transform public spaces to community spaces?

Read more

placemaking, community spaces

June 2015

Roof gardens from
around the world

A great way to combat air pollution, roof top gardens are a beautiful addition to any city. Check out these nine breathtaking roof top gardens from around the world.

green building, roof top garden

Mapping Your
City's Smells

At the University of Cambridge scientists have been collecting data on how urban smells can influence urban life.

An urban smell dictionary has been created that comprehensively covers unpleasant or 'emission' odours to pleasant smelling or 'nature' odours.

Read more

urban planning, city design

The Evolution of Urban
Planning in 10 Diagrams

This overview of an former exhibition provides an interesting look at how simple illustration has been able to capture complex ideas on paper and in the process has revolutionised how we live in cities.

Read more

planning, urban structure, urban planning, urban regeneration

January 2015

Sweet relief

As we head back to work in the sweltering heat, we’re all looking for ways to cool down.

Read more

landscape architecture, swimming pools

December 2014

Light up your life

What is your city doing this year to light up the streets at Christmas?

St Mary's Cathedral in Sydney. Image credit:

Read more

cities at christmas, lighting

November 2014

Floating food

Food security is a major challenge for our growing population, but a team of architects from Studiomobile, botanists and others have created the Jellyfish Barge – a solar powered greenhouse where food can be grown with very limited environmental impact.

Read more

food security, innovation, architecture

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