A guide for architects, how to specify brick slips on your architectural project

 

In this post, we’ll delve into how architects can effectively specify brick slips for their projects, exploring versatile uses, aesthetic considerations, and installation methods to achieve innovative architectural designs. 

Brick slips are thin bricks, typically around 12-28mm in thickness. They are used to mimic the appearance of traditional brickwork. They can be manufactured as a slip or cut from full-sized bricks and provide a lightweight alternative to traditional brick for cladding and interior or exterior walls. 

Brick slips are mainly made from clay and are commonly used in construction or renovation projects where the aim is to achieve the finish of traditional brick without the weight and expense. Brick slips offer versatility in design as they come in various colours, textures and sizes, allowing architects to be highly creative in both arrangements and patterns.

Overall, brick slips provide a cost-effective and convenient solution for achieving the desired brickwork look in residential and commercial spaces.

 

How do architects specify brick slips for their projects?

 

There are many ways architects are utilising brick slips to enhance their architectural designs. Let’s explore a few of the most common uses:

Façade Renovation: Brick slips are often used in renovation projects to refresh old or outdated buildings. With the use of brick slips it is possible to revitalise a buildings appearance whilst retaining the charm of traditional brickwork.

Interior design: In modern architectural design brick slips are commonly used to create focal points, not just externally on a building but internally too. They may be used to add texture or warmth, create a feature wall or accentuate an area.

Creative patterns and design: Brick slips give architects the opportunity to unleash their creativity. The arrangement of brick slips can completely transform the appearance of a building. They give architects the ability to experiment with pattern, layout and texture. Whether arranged in unique geometric patterns, staggered bonds or a herringbone design, they can create interest and draw the eye to create a truly memorable building, something that everyone stops to look at as they walk past in the street.

Modern Methods of Construction – some projects benefit from using brick slips within systems due it being the most suitable build method for the project location, size and design.

 

 

How brick slips can be used for different architectural styles

 

Brick slips are used to enhance a range of architectural styles. They may be the best fit in the choice of building material for both aesthetics and functional reasons.

Traditional styles

Brick slips enable architects to retain the characteristics and feel of older structures. For example, the glazed brick slips of the London Underground. You can match brick slips to existing brickwork in restoration projects, enabling you to address structural concerns whilst maintaining historical features. You find different colours and textures will often be used in certain areas; Rairies Montrieux white and brown glazed brick slips are often used in the London area. 

Modern and contemporary styles

Architects use brick slips to create a wide range of modern styles. From sleek minimalism to bold and striking, brick slips can be well suited to modern aesthetics. 

The lightweight nature of brick slips facilitates the construction of cantilevered or complex architectural forms enabling architects to experiment with unique shapes and configurations. With the range of colour and texture available, and the opportunity for unique arrangements they offer an exciting prospect for modern design.

Industrial and loft styles

Brick slips are often associated with the loft style and are commonly used in loft conversions, warehouse renovations, industrial inspired interiors and restaurants. Heavily textured stock bricks can also help to evoke the ambience of urban lofts.

 

What’s the range of different brick slips that are available?

 

The range of bricks available is diverse, offering architects and designers a wealth of options.  They can be made using clay, concrete or cut from traditional bricks.  Here we focus on clay bricks slips.

Colour

Brick slips are available in a spectrum of colours. The raw materials create the through body colour of a slip. Red or buff clay is combined with additives such as manganese to affect the body colour. Sprays, Engobes and glazed can be added to the base colour slip to change the appearance. For more information on glazed brick slips you can see our blog on this topic: What Shapes, Sizes & Colours Do Glazed Bricks Come In?

Coloured brick slips

Size and shape 

The standard UK format for brick slips is 65mm x 215mm. However, in recent years, there has been a trend towards different formats.  

Longer format slips accentuate the horizontal lines of a building by creating a continuous, elongated visual flow along its facade, emphasising the width and reducing emphasis on vertical elements.

 

Long format brick slips

 

The sizes of brick slips used vary depending on the project requirements. Here are two examples of how shape can dramatically affect a building’s characteristics:

 

Brandon Street Case Study 

The Rairies Montrieux hexagonal tiles used on the Brandon Street project were chosen for specific project requirements, such as creating a unique aesthetic and standing out from traditional facades. Ultimately aiming to blend social housing with a developing unban landscape whilst prioritising the functionality of the building and its visual appeal.

 

Brandon Street project, brick facades used in functional design  Brandon Street project, brick facades used in functional design Brandon Street project, brick facades used in functional design

 

Villa Kameleon, Belgium – FELT Architecture & Design

The building was carefully positioned into the forest with special attention to preserve the proximity of the trees on most sides of the building.  The faceted façades alternate between light grey plaster and various shades of square green glazed tiles from Rairies Montrieux. This simple play of rhythm and materiality breaks down the volume of the building and allows it to establish a different relationship with its surroundings from every side.

 

Square green glazed tiles, brick slips   Square green glazed tiles, brick slips

 

Texture

Textures include smooth, dragfaced, sandfaced, stock bricks, and waterstruck bricks. Creased stock bricks have become popular in recent years and account for approximately 50% of the UK market.

Waterstuck bricks are also used more frequently, as they suit brick detailing such as projecting headers. Many come solid as standard, therefore not adding extra cost to complex geometric brick designs.

Textured brick slips

Pattern and layout 

Brick slips can be arranged in different patterns and layouts, such as a running bond, herringbone, basket weave or Flemish bond, allowing architects to create unique and visually engaging surfaces. An interesting example is this range that architect Édouard François designed in collaboration with Rairies Montrieux

 

How architects specify brick slips in design

 

Specialised variations

Specialists shapes can be made for practical and aesthetic reasons.

For example, our manufacturer partner Rairies Montrieux make special shapes brick slips to fit within Ash and Lacys Natural X mechanical fix slip Systems.

Special shapes are also regularly used to provide texture on a façade.

Bespoke brick slips can be produced on request. For example these motifs were sourced by CBS and made by artist Maria Gasparian represent the history of the building they were used on.

 

Bespoke brick slips

 

How to incorporate brick slips into an architectural project

 

Here are a few key factors to consider when incorporating brick slips into your architectural projects.

 

Incorporating brick slips into a building

 

Concept and design

Creative Brick Solutions encourages early engagement with our team so that your aesthetic ambitions and the most appropriate build method can be considered at the same time.

Material selection

Selection of material will be made through consideration of colour texture, size and material composition. Durability, maintenance, and sustainability are also factors taken into account at this stage.

Which brick slip system you choose will affect the aesthetic choices available which is why aesthetics and build method need to be explored in parallel.

Detailing and specification

When an architect chooses to specify brick slips in their projects, we would need to know the dimensions, patterns and layout, including any special shapes or configurations required for corners, headers or bond patterns. As brick slips often go on systems, data sheets and EPD are commonly required.

Integration with building structure

Assess the structural considerations and compatibility of brick slips with the buildings framework, ensuring proper support and attachment methods are in place.

Brick slips are often supplied as part of a tested system. We explore the different types of brick slip systems and other building methods in the next section.

How are brick slips fixed to a building?

 

With the rise of modern methods of construction there is a trend towards lighter weight and offsite systems and brick slips are part of the solution.

The method of construction when using brick slips will vary depending on the project-specific factors and requirements, for example, building height, design details and site access.

 

Fixing brick slips to a building

 

The main methods of fixing brick slips to a building are:

Adhesively fixed

This type of brick cladding system uses adhesive to fix brick slips directly to the substrate. This solution offers a simple installation process that often reduces labour costs.

Mechanically secured slips using rails or a backing system

Mechanically fixed brick cladding works with a wide range of substrates and building materials, offering a great range of design possibilities.

Brick faced GRC

GRC brick cladding is made from panels of glassfibre-reinforced concrete made to simulate traditional brick. The GRC panels can be moulded into a wide range of shapes, sizes, and textures, offering a great range of finishes.

Precast concrete

Brick slips are applied to a precast concrete core. This can be manufactured offsite, reducing labour costs and the time spent on-site.

The quality of finish and wide range of design possibilities are advantages of this method. It offers a solution where there are site access issues and is suited to larger installations.

 

How to specify brick slips for architects; our conclusion

 

In this guide for architects, we aim to equip you with the knowledge to effectively specify brick slips for your architectural projects, considering diverse uses, aesthetic aspects, and installation techniques to achieve innovative designs.

By understanding the versatility of brick slips, architects can seamlessly integrate them into various architectural styles, whether for facade renovation, interior design, or the creation of unique patterns, ensuring both aesthetic appeal and structural integrity in residential and commercial spaces. If you want more information and guidance, then contact our team for personalised support.

For comprehensive insights into brick slips seminars and related topics, visit our Brick Slips CPD page to delve deeper into brick design and innovation.