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Do bricks really talk?

  • Anna Parker

    Intervention Architecture



BCU STEAMhouse – Lab Room



“You say to Brick, ‘what do you want, Brick?’ And Brick says to you, ‘I like an Arch’…. And it’s important, you see, that you honour the material that you use.”

[Louis Kahn, conversation with students 1969]

 When I read about Louis Kahn’s famous talks with his students, what struck me was an apparent claim to design to a material’s nature. But what is that nature and who decides this? Surely a material holds a wealth of possibilities, one state as valid a claim as the next.

Just because Brick is good at making an arch doesn’t mean Brick likes an arch. What if given the chance Brick could make a fine perforated screen or woven basket. And why isn’t anyone commending Brick’s ability to talk with Louis Kahn, this is surely a greater contribution to nature than its arch.

Perhaps what Kahn is suggesting instead is that a designer cannot simply impose a historically egotistically ambitious seeking on the material, but must remain receptive to what may emerge organically from the chosen material, shaping them towards a specific purpose.

Is truth then about passive receptivity? And did the brick really talk? If Brick did talk, can’t we have more of a conversation together, rather than be simply told what Brick likes.

We will explore a material’s destiny, a process which uncovers that perhaps what may be true is the talking, and how in our experience at Intervention Architecture, maybe we should ask the neighbourhood the questions.


Anna Parker

Intervention Architecture

More info



Intervention Architecture

Anna Parker is IA’s founding Director, a qualified Architect who has gained experience in a number of renowned architecture practices within the UK, leading a variety of residential, education and commercial projects from conception to completion.

Anna has been shortlisted for; UK Construction Week Role Model; a national RIBA ‘Rising Star’; the Birmingham Post ‘Business Entrepreneur of the Year’, listed within the ‘Midlands top 50 Entrepreneurs’ (Insider), and was nominated as a finalist for Birmingham’s Young Professional of the Year.

Further to her RIBA chartered membership, Anna also sits on the panel for the RIBA Small Practice Group which regularly meets in London.

Anna has taught at the Birmingham School of Architecture since 2014, and has led a 3rd year design studio on the Undergraduate Course. Several of Anna’s students have been nominated for the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) President’s Bronze medal award in the academic years in which she has taught to date.

Anna also sits on the Birmingham City Council ‘Design and Conservation Review Panel’, as a Core Member.


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BCU STEAMhouse – Lab Room

STEAMhouse is a unique new space for innovation through interdisciplinary collaboration. Powered by Birmingham City University, their free workshops and events allow people to share and develop their ideas with experts from many different backgrounds. The venue has specially designed spaces to encourage businesses to incubate new ideas, and prototype new products and services. It also houses a fabrication facility where members can experiment with digital, wood, metal and print production.

STEAMhouse is located on Digbeth High Street, a stone’s throw from the city centre.

  • Nearby Parking
  • Wheelchair Access
  • Toilets
  • Accessible Toilets

108 Digbeth,
Birmingham, UK

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