What a sumptuous feast of buildings. Congratulations to the talented winners and finalists of the 2001 Brick Awards.
The themes in this issue really underline some important truths about brick - namely sustainability and innovation. I was particularly taken with the Viewpoint article on 1930s brick buildings. Pared down, sleek and highly innovative in their time, their social and design values reflected the aspirations of a generation. We are fortunate so many have endured to delight us today. But it's not dumb luck: it's the durability and adaptability of brick that made it such a sustainable choice then. As it is now. And just look at those output figures - 8,429 million bricks in 1939!
Of course, these days brick's main role is as a cladding. But how heartening to see craft bricklayer Nick Evans building such wonderful stuff in solid brickwork - including retaining walls nearly two metres thick. A few more like him and we would soon be back to 1939 figures!
And as cladding we see brick's ability to adapt; at Aston's Lakeside residences a 290mm brick module gives a new 'dimension' to the elevations; at Wigmore Street, a 52mm high brick, quarter bond and thin joints introduce a fine, fresh rhythm and texture. Then really 'off the wall' projects - bulbous elevations in Cork, Gehry's Neuer Zollhof in Dusseldorf and the riotous patchwork wall of colour in Arnhem - all conceived with wonderful verve and daring.
At BedZED, a pioneering development in sustainable, lowenergy housing, brick cavity walling is achieving a U value of 0.1 - way in excess of the new Part L requirements.
BedZED is a pioneer now - but could well be mainstream before long. Because what strikes me looking back is how soon innovation becomes convention, becomes tradition.