please empty your brain below

my garage conversion, done about 8 years ago, used slices of real brick. The builders sawed one third off each brick and applied these to the new wall, which I think was made of breeze blocks.
I wonder ... what IS the lifetime of these buildings?

The pioneer of this technology was the inventor of Bayco.
I call them brick-flavoured buildings.

Also good in earthquakes, and for levelling up the North.
If that tower in construction in the last photo had walls solely of brick it would be the tallest such structure in the world and I'm sure the developers would be making a noise about that
Many years ago, during student vacations, I worked as a bricklayer’s labourer and was told the names given to various types of bricks referred to where they were made: the yellow-grey ones were Chaileys, the heavy brown ones Southwaters and the cheap pinkish ones used for interior walls Flettons. Much of the new building in London uses a pale beige brick I’ve never seen until recently.. Does anyone know where these come from?
We asked for this really, as so many people object violently to visibly concrete buildings.
Keith - Chaileys and Southwaters (engineering bricks) were both I think Sussex bricks - and what about Keymers? Dozens more from different parts of the country. Bricks being heavy to transport tended to be used near where they were produced and hence reflected the nature of local clay (and tended not to be used in areas where stone was more prevalent than clay). St Pancras was built from Nottingham red brick rather than London stock brick to showcase its east midlands destinations.
I guess the 'veneers' could come from anywhere and don't even need to be made of the same stuff as real bricks ...
Well, I worked in the construction industry for years and never heard a 'leaf' called a 'wythe'. I'd be interested if anybody has heard this term used, and whereabouts in the Country they were.

Line 4, the 'shell' is actually the 'frame'.
Thanks for intoducing me to the splendid word 'wythe'. I must try to remember it for Scrabble.
I am surprised that the planners are allowing so many of these in red brick, which is not traditional in London.
Readers in the Southampton area who'd like to know more about bricks could try a visit to the brick museum at Swanwick/Bursledon where I volunteer.
We're starting to open up after lockdowns, booking required at present.

(I don't know much about bricks myself, I work on the steam equipment).
The many references to concrete in the post should all be reinforced concrete, of course.
And logically, avoidance of thermal bridging cannot be the purpose of cavity walls. The purpose of the cavity is indeed insulation, and the other benefits mentioned. Thermal bridging is just one thing that can go wrong.
Ah. Brick Slips. Something that I know far too much about.

One thing about brick slips is they are genuine brick albeit just slithers so they is no reason they can't look identical to something made of full thickness bricks. They tend to be stuck on by resin but the visible mortar should be genuine. Of course, for corners, you need the real full-width bricks or it is a give-away.

Brick slips are an absolute saviour when combined with the full size version for rescuing situations caused by the builders not following the architects plans - says he, knowingly. They can be ordered for standard bricks and some firms will even slice them off bricks you supply if necessary. If made this way they are obviously more expensive than the full brick.

My brother, a bricklayer, actually gets asked not to build the walls to a uniform consistency because the customer doesn't want people to think that pre-fabricated brick panels have been used.

Highly bemused that, in the first photo, the bricks clearly suffer from the white powdery efflorescence. So truly replicating 'real' brickwork.
A descendent perhaps of the mathematical tile, used in East Sussex and Kent to give the appearance of brick to timber buildings (in the eighteenth century).
Malcolm of Kent,

I think it is more accurate to state that the purpose of the cavity used to be insulation - and then only that was part of the reason. For new builds insulation can be applied in better ways and can even be retrofitted to existing buildings.

Nowadays all that the cavity wall is there for is to provide an air gap to prevent water penetration. Anything that breaches that air gap (e.g. brick ties, lintels) needs to be designed in a way that ensures the water barrier is maintained. In areas of high rainfall a damp-proof barrier (e.g. a strip of impermeable material) needs to be provided in window openings.

Given the abundance of options available nowadays it is clear that the brick is only present because people find brickwork pleasing on the eye and hence use of it increase chances of planning approval.
So much for the union of form and function! At least we do not seem to be going back to the grotesque nightmare of 70's cladding in fake stone (sometimes over the top of real stone in the Welsh Valleys, no less).... or are we??
The main give-away of distinguishing a modern brick faced facade from solid / load-bearing walls is that you don't see bricks end-on ('headers') with cavity walls and veneers, whereas you do in pre-war buildings.

Key advantages of this method are that we are spared the wilfully garish efforts with flimsy looking cladding panels in which architects seem to have thought 'any colour scheme except boring, please', and bricks are much better at not spreading fire. Having said that, it still takes a lot of effort in design and construction to ensure that fire can't spread through the cavities.
Pedantic of Purley, what is that "powdery efflorescence", and how does one get rid of it?
We had a lovely wall built in our garden and it suffers from it.
The builder said it just happens sometimes.
Keith - Info. about the London Stock brick here.

Many of the London brick fields are shown on the OS maps, especially the 1860s editions.

I like the look of the London stock brick and their variety within a wall, much better than a bland looking all the same more modern day brick.

Because these are no longer available (new versions don't look the same) there used to be a market for recycled stock bricks for those people that needed them to match existing brickwork. I was told that this made them very expensive.
Wow, I had no idea! This blog is a real education.
All I know is that I was told my 1930s house is only single layer brick so can't have cavity wall insulation.

It's blooming cold most of the year, and noisy when someone scrapes against it while walking past on either side - both side walls are on right on our property boundary so access is open.
Cornish Cockney I agree about this blog. My 1930s maisonette is also single brick layer
I seem to recall that it is also possible to fake brickwork (for decorative reasons) using a multiplayer concrete rendering process similar to fake stone cladding.

A layer of "mortar" colour render, then a layer of "brick" colour render, and then score through the brick render to "draw" the brick pattern.

I think more commonly used as a finish on wood framed houses in North America than in the UK, rendering over the exterior wooden skin of the building.

Not something that strikes me as a good idea, but anything to create an impression.
We see this in the NW too (where red brick is at least traditional). Much scarier are the modern townhouses, two stories over a ground floor garage. A single layer of brick skin is built as a real wall, on top of a load of white pine, insulation materials and plasterboard as the inner skin. There have been cases of gable ends falling off in high winds.
It's called Curtain Wall construction, like everything else, it's done because it's cheaper. It's way, way cheaper to build the curtain wall components in a factory and hoist them into place than it is to build them in-situ. The trend in construction is to build bigger and bigger modules in a factory setting assemble them on-site. For example, entire hotel bathrooms are built offsite, dropped into place, and hooked up. It's faster and cheaper that way.
Mathematical tiles are an interesting predecessor. They were used on occasion to modernise the appearance of timber framed buildings thus copying exactly their use on modern tower blocks (structural timber frame inside, veneer of mathematical tiles outside). On one building in Shrewsbury you even get the edge effect as they only put mathematical tiles on the front of the building.

As to a "traditional" London brick it technically never existed. Roman red brick (and tile) was used and re-used, and by the 19th C the availability of specialised bricks meant that they were used widely. The London stock brick is probably the closest we have come to it but even then you often find red brick detailing or in some cases complete walls in a different brick (for example gault brick front facades). By the 1930's the London stock brick was probably the Fletton.
Blimey, very informative. Thank you. Pink Floyd would be seriously impressed!
I'm a fan of brick slips, and of modular construction making homes quicker and cheaper (and generally more eco-friendly) to build.

You've previously posted on the "London Vernacular" architectural style, which whilst a bit samey I think really does look a lot better than the old "colourful cladding" which was starting to be used in the 2000s and would probably be what these buildings would look like instead.
The panel being hoisted up in your first photo looks to be a sandwich element - that's the entire outer wall pre-built at ground level. That'd be the inner concrete wall, then insulation then the outer cladding layer, all sandwiched together with a fully installed window. The outer walls are not load-bearing, of course. The building has load-bearing columns and inner walls.
The middle of the wall is still a really good place to place insulation. And if you use mineral or glass-based insulation behind brick you've got the fire risk sorted.
For everything you've ever wanted to know about bricks - and much that you didn't think you wanted to know - this website is the 'go to' for pictures of Old Bricks.

I am afraid powdery efflorescence does just happen sometimes. I am told it is the salt leaching out of the bricks. Presumably the bricks (or maybe the mortar or the water used) shouldn't have this level of salt but it does sometimes.

Eventually over a long period of time it does just seem to go away. I am told if it does flake off it is important to remove it from the ground or it just mixes with water then gets re-absorbed by the bricks and makes its way back onto the surface of the wall if you don't have a damp-proof course such as on a garden wall.
Cornish Cockney & Monkey: bad luck! Anywhere outside London, you can assume a brick house built after 1919 has cavity walls. In London they carried on using solid walls into the 1930s.

But of course Cornwall is exposed to driving rain off the Atlantic, and cavity insulation of exposed walls can be disastrous if it wicks damp into the inner layer. So you mightn't have fared any better staying down there. Sometimes you can't win.
"Modern flats therefore tend to be constructed out of concrete masonry units" is quite a claim, and one that I would wager is very likely not the case. The structure of the exterior walls from slab-to-slab is most often a structural framing system, or SFS. The most well known is a system called Metsec. These are prefabricated offsite steel modules that provide the structure that the internal wythe of blockwork (concrete masonry units) would.

External brickwork, either slips or traditional, can be tied back to the SFS, with most of the weight taken up using masonry support angles ever one or two storeys. These angles are fixed to the slab edge.

Moreover, "The artificial walls are all made from identical panels so there are telltale vertical lines where they meet, regular breaks which would be structurally disastrous if built in the traditional manner." is also less than accurate. Traditional brickwork walls will still have vertical lines called movement joints. These are also repeated, sometimes every 6 or 12m horizontally and they also stack vertically all the way up the building. It is not such a "telltale".

The irony of this post containing "go away and do some proper research"...! No offence intended, only hoping to share knowledge.
Sorry. My Dad also resisted leaving a comment telling me how much of this post wasn't quite true.

Coming soon, my 'expert' guide to aircraft design, ballroom dancing and the Australian wine industry.

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