Modern Materials for Traditional Facades

Here Adrian Storey, General Manager at Horbury Facades, looks at how innovation in modern rainscreen cladding materials is resulting in a rise in brick facades.

“Dating back to 7000 BC, and originally made from dried mud blocks, bricks are one of the oldest known building materials. The clay bricks that we commonly use today were made popular by the Roman Legions, who operated mobile kilns and built large brick public and private structures throughout the Roman Empire. They built walls, forts, cultural centres, vaults, arches and faces of their aqueducts.

The Herculaneum gate of Pompeii and the baths of Caracalla in Rome are great examples of Roman brick structures that still stand to this day. During this period, brickmaking spread throughout Europe, where it is still one of the most common construction materials, particularly for housing.

To this day, a brick façade remains a popular choice with designers. As such we are seeing the trend for brick slip panels continuing to grow with architects looking to achieve a traditional aesthetic, alongside the benefits that are only offered by rainscreen façades. These include increased insulation performance, reduction in wall thickness and, as brick slip systems tend to be very light compared with traditional masonry, substantial weight savings.

Lightweight brick slip panels give building designers greater freedom of expression because it avoids the need for heavy masonry-based internal supporting structures. The result is not only a building with a reduced carbon footprint, but one that incorporates a modern aesthetic with a conventional style. The material’s visual appeal also creates an architectural fusion between other commonly-used facade materials, such as timber and terracotta tiles.

We are well underway on a contract installing a rainscreen cladding system with a red brick slip and terracotta façade on a residential development in London. This is part of Elephant Park; the new £2.3bn multi-phase regeneration of the former Heygate Estate based in Elephant & Castle.

The Highwood Garden Terrace development which we have been appointed to features an inspirational brick slip Corium façade in grey and red in assorted textures. Glazed terracotta tiles in seven varying shades that gradate from buff to a dark red, are also fixed onto playfully arranged infills in a staggered bond of differing lengths. The design of the structure is inspired by traditional London mansion blocks and incorporates a number of tiers where the building steps back to offer terraces to many of the homes.

Aside from the aesthetics that can be achieved with brick slip, the material is more commonly used for larger residential developments as it enable builders to complete projects more quickly. This method also reduces the costs incurred in areas such as waste disposal, deliveries and storage requirements. Furthermore, as brick slip panels are factory made, the quality of workmanship is also expected to be higher than traditional brickwork. As such, the rise in specification of this type of facade looks set to continue.”

Horbury Facades provides a complete façade installation, aftercare and inspection service. This includes intrusive surveys (including rope access for difficult areas), consultation, remediation, cleaning and maintenance, including written reports, logs QA/QC and insurance inspections of all works and checks carried out.

For more information or to speak to us about our cladding installation services, contact Horbury Facades on 01709 515044 or email

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