"The samples we had found met with the architect’s approval, but we thought we could do even better. We used our inside knowledge of the brick market to find a UK-based company that could manufacture the bricks to the architect’s specifications."
Evan Salmon, Sales Manager, Modular Clay Products
Described by its creators as a ‘vertical city’, The Shard is set to become Western Europe’s tallest building on its completion in 2012. Located in the heart of the London Bridge area, this mixed-use development will comprise 25 floors of commercial office space, exclusive apartments, the five-star Shangri-La Hotel, and a public viewing gallery with 360˚ views over the city.
Design architect Renzo Piano and executive architect Adamsons Associates had already approached a number of Modular Clay Products’ competitors for brick samples, but had yet to find one that fully met their technical and aesthetic specifications. Modular Clay Products’ involvement with The Shard began in 2009, when the firm was asked by Renzo Piano to help move the project forward.
The project ran up against an early stumbling block when it emerged that the original choice of brick was not a viable option as it was not frost-resistant and had a high water absorption, explains Tim West, Managing Director of Modular Clay Products.
“Given that the external brickwork runs into the building itself, this factor represented a significant concern. If the bricks absorbed too much water, prolonged exposure to the elements could cause the external brickwork to weather and darken at a faster rate than the internal brickwork. For the architects, it was vital that the appeal of the bricks matched their durability.”
The team was given an image of the architect’s ideal brick. Leveraging its wide-reaching partner network across Europe, Modular Clay Products secured a range of brick samples for the client.
Evan Salmon, Sales Manager at Modular Clay Products, explains the next part of the process. “The samples we had found met with the architect’s approval, but we thought we could do even better. We used our inside knowledge of the brick market to find a UK-based company that could manufacture the bricks to the architect’s specifications.“
The final choice was a bespoke Roman brick, with dimensions of 290 x 47mm. The project also featured a number of different special-shaped bricks that were used within the wall to meet the specified dimensions and returns – all of which were made by the same method to keep their sizes and shapes consistent with those of the standard bricks. By locating a UK-based supplier, the team identified a sustainable option that would minimise transportation costs. It also represented the most cost-effective option for the client in this instance.
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