Masonry is going through a facelift of late, with many contemporary projects taking the modular based building construction type and manipulating its geometry in a variety of interesting ways.

Referencing back to the architectural greats like that of Frank Llyod Wright and his 1948 Xanadu Gallery, brick is being used to successfully create drama and intrigue into modular facades.  

This play and manipulation of the modular becomes interesting when combined with the element of subtraction. No longer does the structure need be interpreted as heavy and solid, brick structures can be light weight, open and airy.

With subtraction comes heightened light penetration, which on an external level allows warm glows to escape into the dark night. From an internal perspective the subtractions can create dappling and choreographed sunlit environments that shift and change through the progression of the day. 

Peter Zumthor has taken these such notions and applied them to his inspirational extension to the Kolumba Art Museum. Taking the colour hues of the existing heritage walls he has created a contemporary addition that neither over shadows, nor ‘squashes’ the existing facade. Inside, the gallery is an art piece unto itself. 

Office dA Architecture and Anagram Architecture both explore texture within their masonry facades. Extrusions of surface in Tongxian Gatehouse allows for depth and shadow to emerge. Taking what might have been a fairly flat faced building and giving it texture and interest.

The Human Rights Documentation Centre uses rotation of the module to promote movement within the surface. This rotation also allow for moments to occur where light is able to escape the facade, making the building equally as inviting at night time.

All these projects are fantastic examples of  simple material and modular manipulations. Each are really inspiring examples of how monolithic architecture can achieve scale and texture across a variety of scales. I can not wait to see what other buildings will begin to emerge in their wake.



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