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Architecture students make their own bricks with a twist

Fifty-five beginning architecture students made 1,000 bricks out of a variety of materials for their structure class. Not comprised of traditional clay, the bricks are made of everything from layers of carpet to aluminum foil to shotgun shells. The bricks bare only one similarity, the dimensions of a standard brick – eight inches by four inches by two and a quarter inches. The bricks are stacked into a tower that will be on display in the Renaissance Hall lobby until April 15.

Each student had two weeks to build more than a dozen bricks. Regin Schwaen, associate professor of architecture and instructor for the course, said the most difficult aspect of the assignment is to make the bricks precise and firm.

However, innovativeness sometimes outweighs firmness. Schwaen feels the carpet bricks are successful because they use recycled material, have an ability to insulate and make people smile. “There is some humor to those bricks,” he said. “One might not be able to stack the bricks that high, however, I find that an innovative and interesting brick.”

He also enjoyed bricks made from books. “They cut the books to size and glued them in such a way that one still could turn the pages. That way it was possible to read the brick.”

Schwaen hopes the project will forever cement certain bits of information in his students’ minds. “If I had told them the size of a brick in a lecture, chances are quite high that 80 percent of the students would have forgotten the numbers a few weeks later. By having students make bricks, chances are higher, that most of them will remember the dimensions for decades, and maybe the rest of their lives,” he said. “It is good to know the dimensions and properties at your fingertips.”


Student Focused. Land Grant. Research University.

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