We see structures going up everyday, but do we realize the effort behind it. Construction requires great commitment, resources and technical skills. When it comes to resources, we are familiar with the construction materials such as Bricks, Concrete, Reinforced steel and such. When we look at the history of the construction, we have come a long way from using stones to bricks to different variations of bricks. In any construction, the most needed component apart from concrete and steel are bricks, obviously.
The earliest used material for building construction was stone, however with changing times, it led to better innovations in construction and it was replaced with bricks. In the present scenario, bricks are the most demanded and preferred component principal components in constructing a structure,
As I mentioned earlier before the arrival and usage of bricks, stones were the primary material used for the construction of structures. With the introduction and use of bricks, although the use of stone has been reduced,the practice has not come to a complete stop. Today stones are mainly used for decorative purposes for homes and buildings. Stone masonry, in fact, had advantages in terms of strength and durability. Also, the stone being completely resistant to all types of weather is, in fact, a good building material. But what truly pose as the challenge is that stone being a naturally formed resource are obtained in varying dimensions and shape and shaping them up is a costly endeavor.
The era of bricks
With the arrival of bricks, it brought a lot of possibilities and advantages in the construction field. The main advantage it offered is that it was much stronger, faster and cheaper. Also, the problem found with stone was that the foundations would crumble under seismic forces, more specifically earthquakes. A well-known example of this is the lighthouse in Alexandria which was collapsed by earthquakes at three different times. As technology further improved, it led to the introduction of different variations of bricks and one such version was fly ash bricks.
Fly ash bricks vs Clay bricks
Fly ash bricks are considered far better than traditional clay bricks. The manufacturing method for fly ash bricks saves energy, reduces mercury pollution, and costs 20% less than traditional clay brick manufacturing. These bricks are less weighted but are stronger, having a compressive strength of 100 kg/cm2, unlike clay bricks that have only 35 kg/cm2. Although it comes with great advantages in terms of strength and other parameters, it has its own set of disadvantages which are one, its size limitation. Large sized fly ash bricks tend to have more breakage, therefore only modular sized blocks can be produced. Second, these kinds of bricks are exothermic i.e they don’t absorb heat unlike clay bricks which are endothermic, therefore it is only suitable for subtropical areas where the climate is warm.
In the present scenario, bricks are the primary component preferred for construction, but this doesn’t reduce the importance and qualities of stone. The biggest example for stone structures are the ancient wonders of the world, which will be explained along with how stone masonry created an innovation in construction in part-II. Until then, stay tuned.