Linear Bricks: Shaping Distinctive Facades

By Claus Christiansen

As one of the oldest building materials, dating back to at least 7500 BCE, brick is often thought of as a traditional, classic option for a building facade. Throughout its long history, however, the brick industry has changed and modernized to remain architecturally relevant. Innovations in brick construction continue to provide new opportunities for designs that combine the warmth and character of a natural material with the efficiency and aesthetics of a modern building.

Long format bricks, for example, create a modern look with their unique dimensions - the length of two ordinary bricks (Danish format) but only 38 mm high. This new brick product creates a more delicate look with the typically heavy material while retaining the texture and color variation expected from a masonry facade. Ultima is a series of linear water-struck bricks released by Randers Tegl in which no two bricks are alike, ensuring visual interest within a linear, modern aesthetic.

The process of creating waterstruck bricks has been perfected and modernized through generations, but the essence of the procedure remains the same. The clay mixture, itself variable in composition and structure based on its source location, is poured into individual molds to set. Once set, the bricks are released from their molds using water, leaving a unique textural imprint on each brick from both the water and the mold itself. The resulting bricks appear smooth and refined, yet with subtle markings and imperfections adding visual interest that speak to the simple, natural materials involved in their creation.

Despite Ultima bricks’ delicate appearance, they are frost resistant and durable. Made of 100% natural and inorganic materials, bricks are considered a sustainable building material. Bricks can contribute to a healthier and more comfortable indoor environment as well, as they absorb humidity better than other building materials and provide thermal massing temperature regulation.

Long format bricks are available in multiple colors and tones and can be applied in various orientations, similar to a more traditional-sized brick, giving them aesthetic flexibility limited only by the designers’ creativity. Below are examples of projects that utilize Ultima long format bricks to create innovative new masonry looks.

Villa Peer, Belgium / UAU Collectiv Architects

RT 156 Ultima

When laying bricks vertically, magic occurs. The bricks at Villa Peer are utilized in both a horizontal and vertical application, creating a striking contrast with the orientation of their color patterning. In a mix of evergreens and gray, huge panorama views make this Belgian villa one of a kind. Here Ultima RT 156 is acting an important part in the bricked gables and overhangs and thus creating a notable contrast in the overall expression of the house.

Bygdøynesveien, Norway / Reiulf Ramstad Architects

RT 162 Ultima

The full-white color of this brick with matching mortar gives the complex a clean, calming appearance without sacrificing interest.

Fredrikstad Office, Norway / Griff Architects

RT 157 Ultima

The greater color variation in this red-brown brick creates a hierarchy of patterning and detail throughout the interior and exterior of the waterfront office building.

Mosevænget, Denmark / Friis & Moltke Architects

RT 150 Ultima

The “vivid black” color of these bricks blends the building into its wooded surroundings while creating a sense of warmth at the entrance to the home.

Eufemia, Norway / A-Lab Architects

RT 155 Ultima

The soft gray-smoked facing bricks on this office building are set in two planes, reinforcing their linear appearance and adding a visually interesting texture.

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