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AJ Specification 11.11 – Masonry

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Case studies of the Lyric Theatre by O’Donnell + Tuomey, Oak Farm by ShedKM and Brentwood Sixth Form Centre by Cottrell & Vermeulen Architects

Editorial - Felix Mara

With masonry as its theme, this issue features three of the finalists of this year’s Brick Awards. There were many strong contenders for the 15 categories and these can be seen on the Brick Development Association’s website (www.brick.org.uk). Our first case study, O’Donnell + Tuomey’s Belfast Lyric, uses Ibstock, Heritage red blend, with great integrity giving it an in-the-round sculptural quality. Externally, its colour and texture harmonises with the surrounding streetscape, while its form and scale achieve the contrast that distinguishes it from its context. It will be a strong contender for many awards and thoroughly deserves its success in the Supreme Winner and Best Public Building categories at the Brick Awards.

ShedKM’s Oak Farm in Liverpool is a domestic extension to a farmhouse extension designed by the same architect in 2003 and was shortlisted for Best Housing Development - 1 To 5 Units. It uses Ibstock Linear Atlas smooth bricks, 440mm long and only 50mm high with dark grey mortar, to create a precise, engineered effect.

Our third case study is Cottrell & Vermeulen Architect’s Brentwood School sixth form centre and assembly hall, shortlisted for the Best Education Building award. It couldn’t be more different from our other case studies, with a smooth polychrome brick classroom block and a highly textured block for the assembly hall.

Lyric Theatre, Belfast, by O’Donnell + Tuomey


Click on the photo above to view images, drawings and data of Lyric Theatre, Belfast, by O’Donnell + Tuomey

The Lyric is sited between the characteristic grid pattern of the surrounding brick streetscape of Belfast and the serpentine parkland setting of the river Lagan.
The skyline of the building displays the constituent ingredients of the design. The solid sculpted brick volumes linked by transparent permeable public spaces visually connect the street through the woods of the Lyric to the continuous flowing line of the river through the city.

Our architectural concept responds to these conditions by housing each of the three princi- pal functional elements of the building within its own distinctive brick box, with the public circulation spaces and staircases wrapping around the fixed forms of the theatre, studio and rehearsal space, which stand on the slop- ing ground of the site like rocks in a stream.

Seen from the river, the new theatre is expressed as crystalline forms in a parkland.

John Tuomey, director, O’Donnell + Tuomey

Oak Farm, Liverpool, by ShedKM


Click on the photo above to view images, drawings and data of Oak Farm, Liverpool, by ShedKM

The original Oak Farm project, completed in 2003, completely renovated the existing farmhouse and added a modern extension. In 2008, our client needed more space to accommodate a separate living room; additional bedroom; an office; utility room and an ever-growing number of Bichon Frise dogs. The conservation officer was always keen to see any new buildings be built from ‘a material that reflected permanence’, verbally discouraging earlier timber clad proposals. We were also keen to use a material different from other parts of the building, simply to distinguish this project from others on the site.

After investigating more alternatives than I would care to disclose, we proceeded with Ibstock’s Linear brick products. The brick itself is 50mm-high, with a 6mm-recessed mortar joint, allowing this unconventional module to match the inner blockwork sizes. Deep window reveals allow the 440mm-long brick to return which, when using Ibstock’s other stock sizes, means there was no brick cutting required. Expansion joints were set out to line up with corners of the large window reveals, with insulted vertical DPMs used where the brickwork continued inside the building. All window frames, integrated joinery and glazing mullions were designed to relate to this brick coursing.

Credit where it is due: the brick layer was excellent, despite my concerns that this unconventional brick module would only lead to problems on site.

Miles Pearson, associate director, ShedKM

Brentwood Sixth Form Centre by Cottrell & Vermeulen Architects


Click on the photo above to view images, drawings and data of Brentwood Sixth Form Centre by Cottrell&Vermeulen Architects

This project for an independent secondary school in Essex creates a new sixth form centre and assembly hall.

The sixth form centre consists of social and study areas, classrooms and administration space and has been created through the refurbishment and remodeling of an existing Victorian vicarage, with a new classroom block built alongside. The 420-seat assembly hall will be used for performances, school functions and public events.

The design is modern and contemporary, while still relating to the history and heritage of the school. The project achieved planning approval in the context of a conservationarea and under close scrutiny from the planning department and English Heritage. We worked closely with all stakeholders to achieve a design that is both sympathetic to its context, and makes a new, forward-looking statement for both the school and the town.

Jonathan Daws, project architect, Cottrell & Vermeulen Architects

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