“Architecture is the transformation of a worthless brick into something worth its weight in gold,” Alvar Aalto once said, paraphrasing a statement made by his friend Frank Lloyd Wright . Aalto and Wright were by far the first 20th century architects to wax about brick’s place in modern architecture, either. Mies and his Bauhaus buds, like Walter Gropius, understood the versatility of the centuries-old material, and Louis Kahn became so closely associated with brick that a comprehensive biography of the artist by Wendy Lesser, published earlier this year, is actually titled You Say to Brick .
The enduring, adaptable, and ecologically sustainable brick—a literal building block of modern civilization—is a key component of contemporary architecture, which is why Taschen is paying homage to the material with a new two-volume tome. Titled 100 Contemporary Brick Buildings , the weighty book sheds light on the diverse array of architectural styles that can be realized with brick. We’ve got a preview of the forthcoming publication, which will be available in stores on August 21 .
Vernacular: Toshiko Mori, Thread: Artists’ Residency and Cultural Center, Sinthian, 2014–15
Local artisans built this cultural center using bamboo, mud brick, thatch, and other materials from the region. More considered the local climate in many of her design choices, including roof overhangs that offer shade, spaced brick for airflow, and a sloping roof for rainwater collection.
Contemporary: Herzog & de Meuron, Tate Modern Switch House, London, 2010–16
Now considered a paradigm for modern museum design, Herzog & de Meuron’s 10-story, pyramidal museum doubled the gallery of the Tate Modern. Rather than a façade of traditional red brick, the Switch House is enveloped in a perforated brick screen, which allows light to penetrate the structure by day and causes the building to glow at night.
Minimalist: Monadnock, Nieuw-Bergen Landmark, The Netherlands, 2014–15
Two simplified geometric forms—a cube and a prism—comprise Monadnock’s green-and-red brick tower, which stands in the central square of the small Dutch town of Nieuw Bergen.
Modernist: Álvaro Siza, Theater/Auditorium of Llinars del Vallès, Barcelona, 2012–15
Tightly packed ceramic klinker bricks form the façade of this clean-lined geometric complex, built to host a spectrum of events ranging from musical performances to conferences.
Deconstructive: IStudio Architecture, Brick House, Maharashtra, Wada, India, 2010–14
Inspired by the philosophies and the works of Laurie Baker and Nari Gandhi, IStudio created this structure with ambitions to elevate the perception of brick homes in rural India—which are regarded modest and unremarkable—into, what the architects call, “a modern man’s earthy and vernacular home.”