Bricks Get Cooler for the 21st Century

Bricks Get Cooler for the 21st Century

25th January 2016

Here at Safety Fabrications we’ve been taking a look at one of the most versatile and widely used building materials over the past few months with our series of blog posts on concrete.  While we’ve been researching concrete we’ve also come across some other quite unusual and innovative building materials such as old porcelain bathtubs and even mushrooms!  Sometimes it seems that the more we learn, the more there is to learn and we keep coming across new building materials – perhaps because there’s been so much progress made in materials technology over the past ten years or so.  We’ve now turned to the humble brick to see what sort of progress in going on in the world of building with bricks.  We’ve already published a post on the history of bricks and another on how bricks are made.   Just as with the series on concrete, it seems the more we found out, the more interesting things became. 

We’ve just come across an innovative and unusual type of brick – a heat dispersing brick that will help keep buildings cool – these are the coolest bricks available!  A couple of architects in Colombia have designed BT – Bloque Termodisipador (HB – Heatsink Brick) which keeps inside temperatures cool through smart design technology.  The bricks sport an irregular shape – they’re angled and perforated which not only improves the building’s thermal comfort, it also helps to reduce material waste and construction time. 

Heatsink Bricks are five sided and asymmetrical – they have a large angled face that helps to protect the brick from solar radiation.  Moreover, the bricks are perforated and have a porous cellular structure which allows the wind (or breeze) to pass through the bricks and dissipate any stored heat within them. 

With traditionally shaped bricks heat is only transferred in one direction – this is because the horizontal surfaces that make up the channels within the bricks act as thermal bridges and conduct the heat to the inside more rapidly – which is great for buildings in colder climates.  However the Heatsink Bricks have horizontal surfaces that are interrupted by a series of small sub-channels to slow down and reduce the path of the heat.   This design also has the added benefit of reducing noise by breaking up and reflecting sound waves – now that really is a cool side effect.

One of the great things about traditional bricks is that they stack well, making them easy and convenient to have on a building site.  You may be wondering how you would make a tidy stack out of bricks that have five sides each – well, wonder no more.  The angles on the Heatsink Bricks mean that they can be stacked in a variety of different ways.  When it comes to actually using the bricks on a building project, they offer much greater versatility because of the angles and they can also easily be combined with traditional style bricks for greater architectural expression.  Each of the HBs features a groove that ensures that the same amount of mortar is poured on every brick meaning that waste is kept to a minimum.  During the installation process a joint spacer is used to create a small triangular space free of mortar so that air can circulate more freely.

We’ll be bringing you more fascinating information about bricks in the coming months, so keep checking back to find out just how cool the humble brick can be.