Designed to succeed

King Edward VI College made angled bricks

Design flexibility, long-term performance and strong sustainability credentials ensure that brick is often the answer when it comes to availability and the creation of stunning and iconic buildings.

Andrew Halstead-Smith, Group Marketing Manager at Ibstock, the UK’s largest brick maker, highlights some current brick trends making significant contributions to award-winning architectural triumphs

The ongoing development of cutting-edge, brick-based construction solutions continues to offer the architectural and specification sector highly innovative and flexible design options for homes and commercial properties. Such design prowess, as well as brick’s proven sustainable credentials is also underpinned by a brick industry commitment to continued product and production advancement.

With numerous examples of brick at the centre of striking and award-winning design, it is evident that with its wide-range of shapes, colours, finishes and deployment possibilities, brick is increasingly being selected to help differentiate and enhance design solutions. The advent of more variety in product design, colour options and varied finishes is a reflection of the industry’s response to satisfy demand and react to trends for increasingly diverse and innovative brick-based solutions. Some of the more popular are outlined below.

Linear bricks for dramatic and elongated effect

A popular solution to enhance building aesthetics is through the use of elegant, high performance thin-sized bricks.

Ibstock’s Linear range provides over 70 bespoke product choices to architects and specifiers, with the thin-sized brick offering a dramatic and elongated effect which accentuates the linearity of the facade. It gives the opportunity to juxtapose the use of a traditional building material with a contemporary design style. Linear bricks are increasingly specified on a number of memorable building exteriors across both the public and private sectors.

A police station built using the Ibstock linear bricks range

Texture and Colour

In terms of specific design trends for brick, texture and unique colours are increasingly being used as design features. Both work well to differentiate surfaces, whether within the same design or from other buildings, and there is now a vast array of textures and colours on the market to choose from. The specification of non-earth colours such as black, white and grey is increasing significantly.

Glazed finish for visual appeal

Projects as diverse as Anglian Ruskin University, the Emirates Stadium, West Hampstead Station and Humberside Divisional Police Headquarters, are just a few of the many award-winning architectural examples where the use of glazed brick has helped to enhance the overall visual appeal of the structure. Examples where the brick finish glows in the dark, or where the use of glazed bricks has given body and density to a building, are prime illustrations.

Manufactured from ultra-pure clays specially selected for their high quality and unique properties, glazed bricks attain the highest possible standards of performance and finish to satisfy the most demanding of tasks. The carefully selected ceramic glazes are chosen to match the clay bodies for optimum durability.

Award winning buildings built using Ibstock glazed bricks

‘In and Out’ & brick bond innovation

Alongside the increased use of alternative shape, texture and colour options to enhance design, the use of visual effects to add style to brickwork is gaining real traction. Experimentation with textures and different combinations of bonds using exciting new brickwork techniques is adding distinctive style to all manner of structures ranging from homes to hospitals and statement buildings alike. So-called ‘in and out’ techniques, using recessed and projecting brickwork, as well as the use of bonding innovations such as Stack (where there is no overlap between adjacent bricks) or Saxon (comprising a regular pattern of soldier and stretcher bricks repeated at alternative courses), are just a few examples of an increasing desire to utilise brick to provide alternative rhythm, scale and expression to building facades.

Underslung soffits

Complementing the use of texture, colour and finish, the ability to combine brick with unusual and visually arresting design is being underpinned through technical solutions such as underslung soffits. Deep reveals and soffits are becoming, for example, an increasingly fashionable feature for homes. To create the effects, the surrounding brickwork bond is carried over the openings while still maintaining an exposed brick soffit without a requirement for unsightly exposed supporting steelwork. Underslung soffits are an ideal solution for designs where unusually shaped and long openings need to be catered for, or where there is restricted access or little or no bearing surface available.

A modern building built using underslung soffits


Brick has for centuries been the traditional cladding material for the country’s buildings. Offering economic, endurance and choice advantages, it has for generations inspired the architectural community to produce work of vision and wide scale appeal.

As tastes change and new trends take hold, it is clear that brick, through advances in size, finish and use, is set to maintain its pre-eminent position as the building material of choice. Readily available, it will continue to create exciting building facades to last a lifetime.