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The joy of working in brick

Due to be presented in Vienna in early May, the Wienerberger Brick Award is now in its fifth cycle. With this biannual award, leading brick and paver manufacturer Wienerberger recognises outstanding international examples of modern brick architecture. The award has five categories and judging criteria include innovative exterior design and skilful use of brick as a material, together with functionality, sustainability and energy efficiency. This year’s winners will be selected by a jury that includes German architect Rudolf Finsterwalder.

Two years ago, Finsterwalder, along with Alvaro Siza, was awarded the Wienerberger Brick Award Special Prize for the Museum of Architecture Foundation at Hombroich, Germany. The project re-uses facing bricks from a demolished building in a way that is both poetic and sustainable. Finsterwalder talks about what influenced the choice of materials. ‘We made the decision to use facing brick, clay block and paving because the region has a great brick tradition’, he says.

‘It is a special joy to work with a construction material that is at home in the region where the building is located and which melds with it into one harmonious whole. In realising the project, we also made reference to the many buildings of the late artist Erwin Heerich as well as to the brick villas of Mies van der Rohe that can be found in the nearby surroundings. As a natural material, the re-use of brick as a construction material also shows particular value.

The imperfection of the brick, in combination with the wide joints, underscores the monolithic character of the building. This sculptural component of architecture is very important for both Alvaro Siza and myself’. The Wienerberger Brick Award has been awarded every two years since 2004 and the 2012 Gala will take place in Vienna City Hall on 3 May. A total of 50 projects from 28 countries and five continents have been nominated for this year’s award, which is endowed with a total of €27,000 in prize money. With 230 plants in 30 countries, Wienerberger is the world’s largest brick producer and the largest roof tile manufacturer in Europe, as well as market leader in concrete pavers in Central and Eastern Europe. Founded in 1819, the publicly listed company employs some 12,000 people worldwide.

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