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Corobrik’s face brick meets sustainable needs of modern development

Mirroring I-CAT Environmental Solutions’ principles of ecological sustainability, its flagship Pretoria-based building was constructed using only environmentally-aligned products, among them, Corobrik’s range of face bricks. 

“Our clay face brick products are generally the first option considered when environmental efficiency is an overriding construction factor,” explained Musa Shangase, Corobrik Commercial Director. “The I-CAT building is a superb example of how these thermally-efficient face bricks meet the ecological requirements of construction while also producing a really eye-catching finished product.”

I-CAT is a leading environmental management company which supplies products and services to assist companies in environmental compliance. Contracted by JC Van der Linder & Venter Projects (Pty) Ltd, the two-story office building has become an iconic structure forming part of the N4 Gateway Industrial Park since late 2015. Some 50 000 of Corobrik’s Onyx Satin face bricks were chosen for the project.

Explaining the thought behind the clever design, Braam de Villiers of Earthworld Architects said that the brief was to reflect I-CAT’s ecologically sustainable ethos which they translated into a building that is sustainable on all three levels; ecological, socially and economical.

“We wanted a material that would give us an interesting texture and the Onyx Satin face bricks created this effect,” said de Villiers. “The smooth, brown colour emphasised the texture and was simply beautiful. We use Corobrik’s products for most of our projects where quality and aesthetically pleasing face brick walls are needed.”

De Villiers said several active and passive design systems were incorporated to meet the sustainable ideals. Passive systems included orientation, shading, natural ventilation and lighting to improve the comfort for workers. 

“The building was orientated directly north and a courtyard was created on the southern side of the building,” he continued. “The northern overhang allows for winter heat gain and summer shading, while the southern façade allows for ample natural light.”

This thermal management is further enhanced by the clay brick which – through its inherent thermal efficiency – regulates heat in summer and coldness in winter for increased comfort. Another added benefit is the cost saved on artificial heating and cooling systems. 

Several dynamic systems were then built around the passive basis for enhanced comfort on those extreme days. “A grid-tied photo-voltaic system was designed to deal with the day-to-day energy demand of the building and to absorb the mechanical ventilation energy demand used occasionally,” said de Villiers. “For water use, rainwater is collected from roofs and stored in an underground water tank buried in the courtyard. Municipal water is also stored in the tank and then transferred to a small water filter station located in the warehouse.”

The low maintenance properties of face brick were also an important determining factor, as this saves on future costs while further preserving energy. “The monolithic face brick wall creates a bold street façade which is broken up with a punched steel window frame and by special bricks that create an integrated woven fabric to specific areas,” said de Villiers, expanding on the brickwork design. 

“Our natural face brick range is the ideal product for sustainable solutions,” continued Shangase. “This is one of the many reasons that industrial, commercial, residential and retail developers select Corobrik for their building options.”

CAPTION: Corobrik’s Onyx Satin face brick was used in an inspired design to create an ecologically, socially and economically sustainable flagship building for the I-CAT Environmental Solutions in Pretoria. PICTURE CREDIT: Dook Clunies Ross