Ibstock Brick has joined forces with the Architectural Association School of Architecture (AA) to look at the role of brick in creating better living environments.

The partnership between Ibstock and the AA will see Year 2 undergraduates that are working towards their ARB/RIBA Part 1 complete a module around ceramics in architecture titled 'Digital Craft: Beyond Certainty and Risk'.

Taught jointly by Dylan Wozniak O’Connor and Patricia Mato-Mora (two digital fabrication specialists and architectural researchers), the module gives students the opportunity to understand and appreciate the material qualities of brick.

Patricia Mato-Mora, Lecturer at the AA and Course Tutor, said: “Bricks have been a mainstay of the UK’s built environment for thousands of years and continue to be the material of choice for those seeking incredible aesthetics combined with the health, safety and longevity benefits that masonry build is known for.

“It is therefore imperative that our undergraduates understand the capabilities of brick in detail so I am delighted that the AA has joined forces with Ibstock, the UK’s marketing leading brick manufacturer, to deliver this important part of the course.”

As part of the programme, students will have the opportunity to design and manufacture ceramic dual-purpose building components through a hybrid approach of numeric and manual fabrication, with Ibstock clay materials being used in conjunction with innovative 3D printing tools, prototyping and robotics to create building elements such as arches, columns, domes and walls.

The combination of industrial robotics and manual making processes will enable students to push the limits of the material's capabilities.

Ben Gerry, Commercial Director at Ibstock Solutions said: “As a business at the heart of building, we are extremely passionate about the role that brick plays in the development of UK’s built environment.

“Having the opportunity to work in partnership with the AA and what will be the next generation of UK architects on this important module is absolutely fantastic.

“The AA and Ibstock share many of the same values, with our commitment to innovation and producing ideas that challenge and advance the design of contemporary architecture.”

As part of the partnership, Ibstock’s South Holmwood factory in Dorking is donating over 300kg of clay materials to the AA for its students to carry out the practical elements of the module including the 3D printing.

Students will also have the chance to visit Ibstock’s brick manufacturing plant to see first hand how bricks are manufactured from clay, including the preparation of clay, moulding, drying and firing.

Ibstock’s Design Advisor, Sarah Jefferson BA Hons Dip Arch RIBA, who is based at the company’s ‘I-Studio’ in London, a space where architects can meet and share ideas in the capital’s architectural district, will also be giving the students a lecture as part of their module.

‘An Introduction to Brickwork’ covers the manufacturing process of handmade, stock and extruded wirecut bricks, looks at the sustainability and durability of bricks as a building material and outlines the different types of mortar, mix, colours, profiles and brickwork bonds.