The brick might be a humble material, but it’s capable of many a visual trick. The latest example: Behet Bondzio Lin Architekten’s design for the Northwest German Textile and Garment Industry headquarters in Münster, Germany.
Using a variety of bricks and clever optical tricks, the architects were able to make the windowless, red brick facade look like a piece of wavering fabric. The designers say they were inspired by Max Klinger’s famous statue of Beethoven, in which a piece of fabric carved from marble is draped across the musician’s legs. Intrigued by the paradox between a hard material and the perception of lightness, the architects wanted to test it on the scale of a building.
To achieve illusion of movement, the designers used seven different kinds of bricks—one standard and six with slightly differing angles. Each brick was labeled and oriented precisely so their slanted side can grab the sunlight or cast shadows. This play with light is what gives the facade its sense of depth.
It’s a stunning effect, and one that just goes to show that bricks don’t require motors to create a seemingly kinetic facade.