Striking a balance between traditional and new isn’t always easy. How do you respect a neighborhood’s tradition while still pushing things forward? That was the question on the mind of Bureau de Change’s design team when they started working on The Interlock, a mixed-use building in London’s Fitzrovia neighborhood.
Surrounded by sturdy brick buildings, the Interlock sought to maintain the same visual language without completely mimicking the 19th-century aesthetic.
“We were interested in taking these very traditional proportions and in some way subverting it—like a puzzle box that seems familiar and reveals a hidden complexity that increases the more you interact with it,” says Bureau de Change’s co-founder and director, Katerina Dionysopoulou.
The five-story building uses 5,000 bricks that were modeled in 3D software to ensure they interlocked together perfectly. The architects chose a charcoal blue clay material that was set into 14 steel molds and fired in oxidation to create the matte finish. Each of the 14 parent bricks were then split into 30 different “offsprings” that created slight variations on the original brick shape.
“The fabrication team used 1:1 printed templates that set out the number, typology, and location of each brick,” the architects explain. “When collated on site, these 188 templates appeared like a construction manuscript, with each brick a different note to lay.”
The resulting building is a beautiful puzzle of masonry; bricks twist, jut, and align in precise format, creating a complicated vision up close and a perfectly choreographed pattern when zoomed out. Sandwiched between two light brick buildings, The Interlock is respectful of its neighbors but leans into its moody contemporary look. It’s a distinctly modern take on old brick masonry—one where precision is only achievable through computation.