The Beauty of Waste
In our article about ceramic bricks as facade cladding, you learned that the final result of a brick is influenced by several factors in the production process: the type of clay, the firing process, and the minerals in our waste streams.
Generally, we work with larger, well-separated quantities of waste to ensure the quality and consistency of the recycled materials. In a custom development, using a specific type of waste stream (for example, from a donor building) can result in a surprising, one-of-a-kind end product.
This can be intriguing but requires a different mindset from the architect, developer, and client. Due to the complex development process, we undertake this only for projects located both in origin and destination within the Netherlands.
There are basically 5 steps we go through with clients in a bespoke (custom) development:
All developments always start with an idea from the client or architect. In a workshop, we share reference images, principles, images of materials, and inspiring objects.
In this phase of the process, we focus on colour, texture, shape, and size, extensively discussing the client’s requirements. This includes any special requests (unique stone shapes) and potential opportunities to optimize the use of the brick.
Additionally, by establishing a price range early in the project, we aim to be as transparent as possible to all stakeholders. A custom development may not fit every budget.
CASE STUDY: In this project, the architects were searching for a brick with the color “Space Grey” from the MacBook Pro.
2. Colour Sample
To transform ideas into actual bricks, it’s crucial to translate the possibilities and limitations of our factory into a bespoke brick that aligns with the design requirements.
That’s why our brick designers start working on the initial samples. Similar to a chef in a kitchen, they begin adjusting the recipes by adding or omitting ingredients. It’s important to note: every brick always meets a minimum of 60% waste. We make no compromises on design and certainly not on our sustainability ambition.
This stage results in the first handmade samples that provide an initial impression of the product’s colour and texture. We seek feedback from the project team at this point before moving on to the next phase.
These initial samples are presented to the project team, and potential iterations are discussed together.
At this stage, a prototype is produced on a small scale, providing an indication of how the brick might look. It’s still possible for the bricks in the final order to vary slightly in shade, colour nuances, and size compared to the prototype because the larger batch of bricks truly showcases the product’s range.
The prototype serves as a starting point and not yet as a production sample.
An essential step in our bespoke process involves creating a production sample on a large scale. Using the number of bricks that fit into a full-size kiln, a mock-up is constructed, illustrating how the bricks will appear on the facade. Often, this step is used to build a trial wall, both for aesthetic and technical purposes.
This phase demands significant time, material, and craftsmanship. Experience has shown that this is a crucial step in the customisation process. The mock-up provides a much clearer view of the colour, dimensions, and texture of the bespoke brick. It also allows testing with mortar colours, bond patterns, and installation methods.
The range and variation of the products in the mock-up provide insights into the final appearance of the end product.
After approving the mock-up, we can commence preparations for production, including procuring the necessary raw materials, securing production capacity, and ensuring adherence to the schedule, often through a delivery timetable.
During this phase of development, we maintain close communication with the customer, architect, and builder to ensure the project’s smooth realization.
All StoneCycling products, including bespoke items designed for unique projects, undergo independent testing by an accredited external laboratory. The test results are translated into a datasheet (Declaration of Performance) containing technical specifications such as freeze-thaw class and voluntary water absorption.
Bespoke Development with StoneCycling
Interested in creating your own custom sustainable bricks for a facade? Have questions? Contact our sales team to explore the possibilities of this bespoke process.