Because we developed 3DiQ with architects and masonry manufacturers in mind, we consider ourselves industry “insiders” — and that means we get the first glimpse at trends that will be impacting architecture and design for years to come. Find out what kind of design innovation is worth keeping an eye on when it comes to masonry.
New Old School
The inside of university residence halls may be high-tech and stocked with futuristic features, but masonry is being used for the exterior to provide a less institutional and more historically accurate feeling. Brick has long been used for university buildings, and rightly so. It’s durable, stylish, and new fabrication techniques mean it can be customized to add architectural cohesion to a project.
Along with looking great, masonry offers other important benefits perfect for students. It’s non-combustible, which offers fireproofing safety, and it helps insulate sound — something common in dorms. Choosing masonry for these projects can also support local businesses and resources.
Escaping the Ordinary Landscape
Obesity and a sedentary lifestyle are contributing to an epidemic of health issues that can no longer be ignored. “Get up and get out” is no longer a suggestion; it’s a requirement to help live longer and stay healthier — but that’s not always easy to do in more population-dense spaces or areas that are short on greenery or plant life.
Designers are increasingly turning to masonry to create landscaping and hardscaping that people want to utilize day in and day out. Commercial real estate, housing developments, and infrastructure projects are all customizing masonry to invoke a feeling that prompts everyone to enjoy the space.
Masonry remains so popular because of its stylish durability, and these buildings have withstood the test of time to become historical treasures. Their systems, however? Not so much. For masonry-based buildings built before 1980, energy efficiency was not a top priority and clunky old equipment could be contributing to higher utility and maintenance costs.
Easy switch-outs and retrofits to upgrade electrical, plumbing, and HVAC systems can make incremental improvements that will offer huge energy savings. This can also be done without drastically altering the aesthetic of masonry design, which is an important step during the renovation of historical buildings.
Adding Some Color
Traditional brick and stone masonry has used natural, earth-toned colors, but new and innovative manufacturing methods have helped other colors stand out — think blue, grey, and even black for the most possible impact in design. Custom colors also mean newer buildings can be created with masonry facades in mind that match historical neighbors.
Color masonry adds character to your architectural design and it can also be used to help improve energy efficiency. Lighter colors and specialized glazes can be used to fend off warmer temperatures while darker colors help retain heat on cooler climates, and different color combinations can support brand messaging.
All About Apprentices
Masonry is far from a dying art, but new tools and innovations have drastically changed the industry and created a talent gap. Traditional masonry workers are aging out of jobs without passing along their techniques, and newer workers are learning skill sets that revolve around technology.
To help bridge the gap, masonry contractors and even architectural firms are calling in apprentices to learn the best of both worlds. Not only does this help grow the talent field, but it can also give masonry contractors room to grow their businesses with the right (well-trained) employees on board
Safety First — Always!
It’s an unfortunate truth: Construction accidents continue to rise, and although technology is disrupting the entire industry, it’s still not sophisticated enough to prevent injury. That’s where the human element comes into play.
Masonry contractors and manufacturers are beefing up policies in place to help keep the entire team safe and building a culture of safety. Many accidents can be prevented with proper safety guideline precautions in place, and it’s up to employers to address these precautions during onboarding and beyond.
Writing Off the Wall
Graffiti is every masonry professional’s nightmare, and although public art is an increasingly popular trend, illegal tagging continues to mark stone and brick facades. Not only can graffiti permanently impact the masonry, the labor and materials needed to remove it can be costly and time-consuming.
Historical buildings especially are often made with natural, permeable masonry that’s sensitive to abrasion. Along with creating a plan of action to deal with graffiti, new and less damaging solutions are hitting the market with ingredients that are organic and gentle to masonry.
It’s important for architects and masonry manufacturers to stay ahead of the trends to maintain a competitive edge and grow their client base. Along with utilizing the right tech — like 3DiQ — leverage design and industry insight to develop masonry products that exceed your clients’ vision and goals.