Forterra have added their unique touch to London’s Riding House Street, an area of Fitzrovia already host to an extraordinary breadth of architectural styles.
Forterra’s work has come on The Interlock, a new five-storey mixed-use building designed by Bureau de Change architects for developer HGG London, a company established to commission design-driven innovative architecture.
The street’s aesthetic is unified by the use of brickwork throughout the architecture and even, at points, the road surface.
The Interlock absorbs this history and responds by taking the proportions of the neighbouring 19th Century terrace and recasting its brick façade to create a building both historic and contemporary.
Abandoning the traditional dimensions of London brick, a collection of 44 misshapen and seemingly un-stackable clay blocks were developed.
Co-founder and Director of Bureau de Change Katerina Dionysopoulou said: “We were interested in taking these very traditional proportions and in some way subverting it – like a puzzle box that seems familiar and reveals a hidden complexity that increases the more you interact with it.”
The patterns visible across the surface are informed, in part, by the interactions between materials and structure. The bricks appear to lap up against glazing, swell and bow between floors and are inset frame-like to denote the building’s perimeter. By modelling the facade in 3D, each facet could be individually adjusted to meet structural and fabrication requirements without diluting the integrity of the surface form.
Staffordshire Blue Clay was selected as a contrast to the area’s existing brickwork. The marl clay was set into 14 hand-crafted steel molds and fired in oxidation to create the matt blue finish. After firing, these 14 ‘parent’ bricks were divided to form the 30 ‘offspring’. Construction of the 5,000 block landscape took place over three months.
The fabrication team used 1:1 printed templates that set out the number, typology and location of each brick.
Co-founder and Director of Bureau de Change Billy Mavropoulos explained: “We worked iteratively with the team at Forterra – adapting and reviewing the bricks in 3D. We were walking the line of what would be technically possible, but through this process, found a point that was both buildable and produced the richness and movement we were trying to achieve.”
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