Often enduring more than a hundred years, brick masonry is testimony to the traditional collaboration between architect, engineer, and mason. Beauty and historical significance are often the most compelling features of brickwork.
Masonry is a 5000-year-old building technology proven to perform well in all types of built environments, given its inherent resistance to fire, insects, and moisture degradation. However, the expectations for buildings have grown from simply providing shelter to maximizing use of renewable, recycled, and recyclable materials, as well as space, energy, sound, and light.
The walls of today’s masonry buildings are becoming more complex than ever, with designs modified to meet new energy code requirements. This evolution means more components in walls than ever before, and they can all come from different manufacturers. One of a designer’s biggest challenges is deciding which materials will both meet the building’s needs and be compatible with one another.
The effects of noise have been well-documented in studies by the World Health Organization (WHO).1 It can increase blood pressure or be a risk factor for coronary heart disease.2 It is known to cause stress and hostility, interfere with sleep, speech, and tasks, and to affect the body’s physical reactions and our relations with other people.
Five Ontario buildings have been selected by MasonryWorx as the best contemporary masonry buildings in the province. Projects are chosen based on uniqueness, trendsetting use of masonry products, and how they demonstrate what brick or concrete blocks can achieve.
Durability is a hallmark of brick masonry construction, but even time-tested materials require maintenance to ensure a long life. Managing a property listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places or a protected historic resource may also mean negotiating conservation standards, treatment guidelines, provincial or municipal regulatory restrictions, and community interests.
Combining timber framing and masonry is not a new idea. The use of brick infill known as ‘brick nogging’ with timber post and beam framing has been employed for building houses throughout Europe since the late 12th century.
Canada’s building codes have historically been formulated, at least in part, based on accumulated historic climate data that ultimately provides the essential criteria for most key building component performance characteristics. However, there are indications climate may be beginning to change. If buildings do, in fact, experience different environmental conditions over the next 40 years, these changes could potentially have a significant impact on our building stock.
Many buildings with solid or load-bearing masonry walls employ interior insulation retrofit strategies as heritage significance precludes work from the exterior. However, adding insulation on the interior side of these solid walls may result in accelerated masonry freeze-thaw deterioration in addition to embedded metal corrosion (of lateral ties and supporting angles/structure) or wood joist rot.
Both gravity and temperature can create misunderstandings resulting in improper or inadequate moisture management design for the exterior building envelope. The lowest point of a building envelope is the wettest because of gravity’s influence (Figure 1). The low point of a building’s exterior wall system does not necessarily have to be the top of the footing (Figure 2) or the top of the stem wall (Figure 3).