BRICK

   Brick is a form of man-made masonry that can be layered to enclose a space or held together with a mortar binder to create a structural support. Brick is made of a mixture of clay and sand, while the mortar is made of sand and a paste. The earliest mud bricks were pressed into molds and sun-dried. This technique was first used around 7500 BC in Prehistoric architecture found in the Neolithic towns of Çatal Hüyük in western Turkey and in Jericho. Sun-dried bricks are less stable than fired bricks and typically last about 30 years, which is why Ancient Near Eastern monuments such as the Sumerian ziggurats (2000 BC) were continually rebuilt upon mounds made from the rubble of prior monuments.
   The largest sun-dried mud brick building that exists today is the Great Mosque of Djenné, in the western African country of Mali, which is one of the most unusual examples of Islamic architecture. The town of Djenné was settled by merchants around 800 and is the oldest sub-Saharan city, historically important as one of the major crossroads of African trade. Built for the first time in the 13th century, this mosque symbolizes the 26th king of Djenné's conversion to Islam. The current building dates to 1907, and great care was taken to reconstruct it according to its original design. The people of Djenné have continued to place a great emphasis on the preservation of the historical design of this mosque, which is why it is now listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mosque is a wide, brown, mud plaster-covered building with conical minarets that give it a highly sculptural appearance. It has one entrance and no windows or external decoration, but the upper portion of the walls is constructed with palm wood timbers that jut out of the wall surface and provide exterior scaffolding needed for access to the roof. The entire structure is built up on a platform to protect it from flooding, while the mud plaster helps to seal the porous mud bricks. Despite these precautions, the mud brick must be attended to regularly, so each year, the Djenné community participates in maintenance on the building that includes repairing the cracks and other damage created from rain, heat, and erosion.
   Although less stable than other materials, this type of mud brick is a sustainable material found in all cultures and is therefore very versatile. In the western United States, a form of mud brick called adobe by Spanish settlers was used in Native American dwellings that can still be seen today, for example, in the Pueblo of Taos in New Mexico. Constructed around 1000-1450, this original settlement is located about one mile away from the modern city of Taos. The form of mud brick used here is a mud mixed with straw or dung to increase its durability. Fired bricks are more durable than sun-dried mud bricks, and therefore they allow for the construction of larger, more long-standing structures. Some of the earliest fired mud bricks can be found in the ancient Indian settlements along the Indus Valley, such as at Mohenjo-Daro, which dates to around 3000 BC. In later Mesopotamian structures, fired ceramic tiles were colored, glazed, and used as a decorative covering for brick, as seen in the Neo-Babylonian Ishtar Gate, which dates to 575 BC and is now located in the State Museum in Berlin. Though fired bricks are more stable than sun-dried bricks, they are more difficult to make in climates that lack adequate timber resources for fire.
   The Ancient Greeks had adequate supplies of stone to use for their buildings, but the Ancient Romans often used a stone veneer over concrete or brick. Therefore, the Roman brick industry became wide-spread, as discussed by Vitruvius in his treatise The Ten Books on Architecture, written in the first century BC. Roman bricks were used for construction across the varied geography of the Roman Empire, and, in keeping with the Roman cultivation of architectural propaganda, their bricks were stamped with a Roman insignia. Roman bricks were used for both support and for cladding. Brick was laid into intricate patterns, such as the herringbone pattern that first appeared in Mesopotamia and became famous in the Roman Empire, and both brick patterns and different brick shapes allowed for greater flexibility in the use of brick in load-bearing construction. For example, the vaulting in the Baths of Caracalla, built in Rome in AD 211, consists of a layer of brick laid flat alternating with brick laid on its edges and bonded with quick-set mortar to give the vault its curved shape.
   By the Middle Ages, the wedge-shaped bricks used in Ancient Roman construction disappeared, and over time, the recipe for concrete was lost. Medieval brick developed out of many localized industries and had distinct regional characteristics. Early Christian brickwork in Ravenna is best seen in the Mausoleum of Galla Placidia, Ravenna, from AD 425. This small building was constructed with rectangular bricks of all different sizes, while the larger, domed Byzantine church of San Vitale in Ravenna, built in AD 546, reveals an intricate use of octagonal bricks in the drum of the dome. By the Renaissance, stone or stucco-covered brick found favor, given the desire to emulate Ancient Roman buildings. However, Filippo Brunelleschi studied Ancient Roman brickwork intently, and used the famous Roman herringbone pattern in the interior shell of his dome for the Florence Cathedral; constructed in the 1420s, it was the largest dome built since the concrete dome of the Pantheon.
   In the modern era, the desire to construct taller buildings with larger unencumbered interiors encouraged the development of more sophisticated construction materials such as modern concrete and steel. Thus, brick was not often used for support in high-rise buildings, although Louis Sullivan alluded to its supportive function in his Wainwright Building in St. Louis (1891), which he covered with brick on the exterior to mimic the internal steel framing. Gradually, modern architects began to distrust the structural capabilities of brick, preferring to use it more sparingly as cladding. Brick continued to be used, however, to cultivate a modest, natural, or regional aesthetic. This can be seen in Hendrick Petrus Berlage's Amsterdam Stock Exchange, completed in 1903 with a spare brick cladding that creates a humble, unadorned surface, in keeping with the modernist desire to strip away excessive ornamentation. Walter Gropius and Adolf Meyer's Fagus Shoe Factory, in Alfeld an der Leine, Germany (1911), has a brick-clad exterior with large glass curtain windows in keeping with the "factory" aesthetic of early-20th-century modernism. Through the 20th century, however, brick is most consistently used in domestic architecture. Famous examples include Frank Lloyd Wright's Robie House, built in Chicago in 1906-1909, Alvar Aalto's Baker House Dormitory at MIT, Boston, in 1947-1949, and Robert Venturi's Guild House in Philadelphia, from 1963. Despite the great variety of architectural materials available today, brick continues to be extremely versatile and low in cost, and therefore it remains an important building material, with about one-half of all domestic architecture worldwide still constructed of brick or mud brick.

Historical Dictionaries of Literature and the Arts. . 2008.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • brick — brick …   Dictionnaire des rimes

  • BRICK — Apparu après 1750, le brick est un petit navire de guerre à voile, son importance étant désignée par le nombre de bouches à feu: brick de douze, de dix huit canons... Gréé en voiles latines sur deux mâts, il peut devenir un voilier très fin, le… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Brick — (br[i^]k), n. [OE. brik, F. brique; of Ger. origin; cf. AS. brice a breaking, fragment, Prov. E. brique piece, brique de pain, equiv. to AS. hl[=a]fes brice, fr. the root of E. break. See {Break}.] 1. A block or clay tempered with water, sand,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • Brick — bezeichnet: Brick (Film), US amerikanischer Thriller aus dem Jahr 2005 Brick (Band), US amerikanische Funk Jazz Band Brick ist der Familienname folgender Personen: Abraham L. Brick (1860–1908), US amerikanischer Politiker Martin Brick (* 1939),… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • BRICK — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom.  Pour les articles homophones, voir brik, brique et BRIC. Un brick est un type de bateau. Brick est un film de Rian Johnson sorti en …   Wikipédia en Français

  • brick — [brik] n. [ME brike < MDu < breken, BREAK (in sense “piece of baked clay”) & MFr brique < OFr, of same orig.] 1. a substance made from clay molded into oblong blocks and fired in a kiln or baked in the sun, used in building, paving, etc …   English World dictionary

  • brick — brick; brick·field·er; brick·ie; brick·le; brick·low; gold·brick; brick·ly; …   English syllables

  • Brick — Brick, v. t. [imp. & p. p. {Bricked}; p. pr. & vb. n. {Bricking}.] 1. To lay or pave with bricks; to surround, line, or construct with bricks. [1913 Webster] 2. To imitate or counterfeit a brick wall on, as by smearing plaster with red ocher,… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • brick|en — «BRIHK uhn», adjective. made of brick …   Useful english dictionary

  • brick|y — «BRIHK ee», adjective. 1. like brick in shape or color. 2. consisting or made of bricks …   Useful english dictionary

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.