The building brick has been around since the very first appearance of architecture or building.
The building brick has been used to make almost everything around us; from the buildings we live in, to the pavements we walk on, to the roads we drive on. Originally brick referred to a unit made from clay but now it is used to describe anything of the same shape containing clay soil, sand, lime or concrete.
Bricks differ between the country, continent and time-period resulting in a range of styles, some intricate and others simple. The variation from the different styles makes for quite a showcase. All of these variations still fall into three different categories, fired, non-fired and chemical. The earlier non-fired, air-dried bricks (known as mudbricks) which date back to around 7500BC, can still be found in a few places, a well-known example being Tell Aswad in Turkey. These were bound using straw and even though they still stand in some places they are far weaker than their successors.
The Middle Ages saw increased demand for bricks with growth in cities, many of which in Northern Europe still have these buildings standing, see Netherlands, Germany, Poland, Denmark, and Russia. The true surge, however, came with the Industrial Revolution with factories shooting up all over England. The popular red brick that is still all over England was used to prevent motor accidents in the heavy fog.
One of the first notable brick-making innovations was a machine patented by Henry Clayton… you might say he was born for it. His brick machine was able to produce 25,000 bricks daily with very little human intervention – an early instance of machine automation already 1855.
Even with modern technology we are limited to about 18 storeys when building with brick and so with increasing populations the demand to build up became greater which saw iron and steel used more.
Monadnock Building – still standing – made in 1896 needed very thick walls to make it viable.