Clay brick - the designers choice

Outdoor spaces are important features in South African living. Over the years the trend has been to craft landscapes so that they become an extension of the house and a recreational area in their own right. Urban landscapes are more and more shaped by the trends to natural, clean and eco-sensitive designs encouraging the use of natural products that blend into the physical environment.

Enhanced outdoor design

Today clay brick is successfully utilised in applications where durability and versatility are critical to the success of any outdoor design feature. The natural tones of clay can be blended into landscapes so that terraces, driveways, patios and pool perimeters become an extension of the building design and surrounding vegetation. Recessed walls can be formed from gentle, earthy-toned clay bricks to cool, shady outdoor nooks that echo the lines of other complementary structures. Water features sculpted from clay bricks combine nature’s elements to create restful, pleasing spaces for the soul in search of respite in the urban environment.

Designed to last

The rigours of prolonged exposure to the sun, wind and rain call for durable materials in the use of landscape architecture. Retaining walls and fences need to be hard-wearing and strong so as to last through the seasons. Here clay bricks come into their own as tough vanguards to temperatures and outdoor extremes. The decision to use genuine clay brick for these purposes should emerge during the planning phase of the building process.

Design applications

Outdoor design features can dramatically enhance a living space. The boundaries between the indoors and outdoors have shifted as space and light vie for equal attention. Featured landscapes can become stylish functional extensions of an architectural plan, incorporating retaining walls, entertainment areas, lawn edgings and paving.

Clay pavers are used to best effect where a fusion of bond patterns and suitable hues can enhance driveways, courtyards, patios and pool areas. The colours and shapes can be selected to blend into the surrounds, or used in contrast to these, creating an interesting play of light and texture.

New trends in building and landscape design have encouraged the diversity of clay brick products into a variety of shapes and tones. Limited only by the width and breadth of the imagination - designers, architects, builders and renovators can specify special shaped clay products such as pool copings, cobbles and cobbled stones and wall plinths.

The effect of bond patterns

The extension of featured landscapes into bold, breathtaking or quietly understated places can be created by the form and colour of clay brick chosen. Different bond patterns will also achieve aesthetically diverse effects with extensive wearing properties. Patterns can recur as unifying thematic elements in the design of water features, outside walls and pool areas so that recreational spaces become design canvases as functional as they are fabulous.

Economy of design

Optimisation is key in urban design. In creating the ultimate urban living space it is critical that beautiful designs can be implemented with sensible budgets. Clay brick is as economical as it is durable. Often combined with other materials, brickwork can be partnered to spectacular effect. Wrought iron railings stretching between brick posts can transform perimeter fences into statements of style. Playful mosaic tiles can tease the contours of pool surfaces alongside symmetrical clay pavers to create the overall effect of a picture-perfect island getaway.

The clay brick tradition in South Africa dates back several centuries. Its longevity as a building material can be put down to its versatility as a visual medium that can be as dramatic as it can be discreet. It provides possibilities in colour, texture and scale and blends harmoniously into natural environments making it an obvious choice for a landscape setting.