Invention keeps Frank Gehry’s amazing Sydney brick wall from falling down – from Architecture and Design
Brick News (10/12/2015)
Reprinted from Masonry Contractors Association News by Julian Fox
Back in February we blogged about Favetti’s job in Chinatown the University of Technology, Sydney’s Dr Chau Chak Wing Business School and how a new technique for securing bricks was invented specifically for this project. At the time most of the building was covered with scaffolding or was still under construction, the Favetti job is nearing completion now and you can see some images of the bricks they are using below.
An interesting article about the complicated brickwork that was used in construction has been published by Geraldine Chua on the Architecture and Design website. Go on over and give it a read.
Approximately 320,000 bricks are being used at the UTS building. Custom designed by Gehry and AECOM and manufactured by Austral Bricks, five buff coloured brick ranges were selected following the creation of over 30 different brick façade prototypes across Australia.
Each of these pressed bricks, manufactured at the Austral Bricks factory in Bowral, NSW, serve a specific function, and differ from standard brick designs. All brick faces, for example, were required to be visibly appealing as the curved and corbelled nature of the masonry façade reveals the sides, base, top and front of the bricks to view.
The brick support system was especially important too, notes Stephen Giblett, Building Structures Lead at AECOM, the project’s structural and façade engineers. In fact, he likens it to the “Ben Lexcen winged Keel” of the project:
“The bricks are generally of a standard brick dimension but instead of having the standard indented ‘frog’, they have a continuous slot in the top which enables a continuous stainless steel rod to be inserted to connect the bricks horizontally and to be bedded into the brick continuously,” he says.
The backing support system, a concept invented by AECOM, UTS and Austral, has provided a template for the bricklayers to work off in creating the curved geometry without measurement or stringlines. In this way, the geometry of the design was not a problem for the bricklayers, who have been able to build the walls using standard brick and mortar construction.