Clay face brick and paving will always play a significant role in the built environment. Here, four leading architects describe how brick products have allowed them to realise their aesthetic and technical ambitions on a range of projects, from a retail destination to affordable housing and a high court building.

Legacy Yard, Umhlanga Arch

Corobrik products used: A combination of Tambotie Satin and Fynbos Rooi Satin face bricks
Architect: Sphere Design & Architecture

Legacy Yard. Photo by Corobrik

Legacy Yard. Photo by Corobrik

Legacy Yard includes multiple vendors, all with a unique offering, making the space an amazing destination, while providing an anchor to the retail node within the Umhlanga Arch complex. The interior language is industrial to a point, juxtaposed with well detailed and bespoke installations.

The raw concrete, exposed services and brickwork all speak to this. Street art keeps things less formal, more fun and adds colour to the space – it also looks good on exposed brickwork and relates to a street food market concept, which is really where the idea of Legacy Yard began.

“We wanted a brick that was not perfectly smooth faced, that was not perfectly consistent, and that had some depth and contrast to its tones,” explains Rupert Spence. This product enhanced the aesthetics and added soul to the space.

“Having a material that essentially gets installed in one process and does not then require additional layers, skills, materials and time to finish also streamlined this aspect of the build. Clay face brick and paving will always have a significant role to play in the built environment. Externally it is still an amazing material and internally the possibilities are endless!”

Sphere Design & Architecture is a Durban-based practice established over 20 years ago. It provides experienced and professional architectural services alongside highly skilled and knowledgeable interior design services. Besides local work and national work, it has also completed many projects internationally.

Elevate Building in Maboneng

Corobrik products used: Onyx Satin, Village Antique Travertine and Nala Travertine face bricks with Ironstone and Namaquastone clay paving
Architect: GASS Architecture Studios

Elevate Building. Photo by Corobrik

Elevate Building. Photo by Corobrik

Elevate Building is an affordable housing project in New Doornfontein, Johannesburg. “It is our first venture into micro-apartments,” explains Georg van Gass. The building consists of 403 units, of which 38 are two-bedroom units and 365 units are 15m² bachelor units. “We really like the aesthetic quality that can be achieved with face brick as a finish. Corobrik brings diversity to the market in the different products it manufactures.”

The choice of bricks was derived from various interactions with Corobrik, and sourcing from brickyards close to site. The aesthetic concept was to create a tapestry of bricks on the façade, giving it complexity without driving up the cost of the actual installation. This was further enhanced by the addition of the Titanium Satin FBX Brick on the south eastern portion of the building in an accentuated Flemish bond.

“Corobrik as a company has always given us amazing service and is always willing to come to the party to ensure that we can deliver a successful development. We can and will most definitely recommend Corobrik,” highlights van Gass.

GASS Architecture Studios is a bespoke architectural design studio with predominant focus on urban regeneration, architecture and Interior architecture. Its work is diverse and spreads over various scales from large residential, commercial, retail developments to small urban interventions. 

Mpumalanga Division of the High Court & Mbombela Square in Mbombela

Corobrik products used: Agate Satin clay face brick with Cederberg and Burgundy pavers
Architect: ORBiC Architects

Mpumalanga High Court. Photo by Corobrik

Mpumalanga High Court. Photo by Corobrik

The Mpumalanga Division of the High Court in Mbombela is a landmark building. Mbombela Square, officially opened 2020, is a mixed-use office development formed in conceptual cohesion with the Mpumalanga High Court. The two buildings were able to be built with the same brick, even though the latter’s contract only started much later. This allowed for a similar aesthetic throughout for a harmonious juxtaposition.

“Clay brick has always been widely used and maintains its status as a highly successful building unit. Other than providing a unique aesthetic and assisting effectively with thermal comfort, the durability makes for a valuable choice. Overall, we were impressed with the workability of the product and how it enabled us to successfully bring our vision to life. Corobrik was chosen because we wanted a product that was consistent and would positively contribute to our creative aspirations, and we were not disappointed,” highlights Toni Mclagan.

ORBiC Architects is a multifaceted and dynamic design firm located in Mbombela, Mpumalanga. Ranging from residential to commercial, recreational and industrial, it fully encompasses a vast range of services.

The Millstock, Cape Town

Corobrik face bricks used: The Black Brick
Architect: TwoFiveFive Architects

The Millstock. Photo by Corobrik

The Millstock. Photo by Corobrik

The Millstock is a mixed-use building located in Observatory, Cape Town. The brief was to accommodate a multi-level parkade, a car showroom and luxury student accommodation on a nearly round stand of about 600m2. The complexity of the stand encouraged a minimalist design approach. The project was completed in 2020 and has since become a landmark within its context.

Given the concept of simplicity, the colour scheme was limited. “By only using two colours, we made use of materials to assist in creating hierarchy within the design. The Black Brick offered us the opportunity to introduce texture, while playing with the contrast between black and white to create rhythm and inform use,” explains Conrad Janse van Rensburg. TwoFiveFive Architects is a commercial architectural practice and consultancy that challenges convention, inspires curiosity, and instigates change, while remaining buildable and within budget.

The soldier bond face brick pattern was chosen as the clean lines enhance the form of the staircases. Introducing the brick in this simplistic yet intriguing pattern, together with their uniform colour, brings a sense of luxury and arrival to the entrance. The face bricks were also introduced at focal walls inside the building, further giving importance to certain areas and adding to the sense of luxury within the building.