Building blocks to success
One of Northcot Brick’s flagship building projects, the Newport Street Gallery has won the 2016 RIBA Stirling Prize for the UK’s best new building.
Awarded annually by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), the Stirling Prize is presented to “the architects of the building that has made the greatest contribution to the evolution of architecture in the past year”.
Designed by architects Caruso St John, the Newport Street Gallery occupies a terrace of new-build and refurbished blocks that line Newport Street’s eastern side opposite the elevated railway arches in Vauxhall, south London.
The project involved the conversion of three listed buildings, which had been purpose-built in 1913 as scenery painting workshops for the booming Victorian theatre industry in the West End. The gallery runs the length of the street, with the three Victorian buildings flanked at either side by new buildings.
The new semi-industrial facades were made with two distinct bespoke blends of brick, which were specially created by Northcot Brick to closely match the ‘common’ style brick of the listed buildings. The majority was constructed in Newport Light blend (181,000 bricks) a hard pale brick, and Newport Dark blend (17,000 bricks), both of which were laid in a mixture of header and stretcher bonds.
In addition, 6,000 bespoke handmade and standard machine made special shapes were manufactured to the architect’s specifications to match both blend types.
According to the judges: “The collection of buildings is beautifully curated, pulled together by the use of brick yet still expressive of their individuality.”
Peter St John from Caruso St John, said: “Brick is a very versatile material and I think here we’ve demonstrated that we can turn something that was used for an industrial building into something that is really delicate and beautiful. Brick has that capacity because of its intricate surface and because of the careful way in which it can be laid. I think it’s a very beautiful material.”
Michael Brown, managing director Northcot Brick, said: “Our traditional manufacturing techniques, combined with versatile brick matching capabilities, enabled us to create bespoke blends and specials with the detailing required to meet the architect’s subtle design brief.
“It has been a privilege to work with Caruso St John and to be associated with this exceptional project, which is becoming recognised as a clever juxtaposition of old and new architecture. We are delighted that good brickwork continues to offer architects endless possibilities in creative design”.