Text: Inga Piiroja
Photos: Indrek Gutmann
In Estonia, silicate brick walls have recently been featured in trendy entertainment venues, restaurants and retail areas. A trend that started in public interiors is now moving into the homes of people who have a taste for the modern, classical and rustic and natural. A silicate brick wall in an interior is bound to get a reaction – it’s a striking architectural element that brings personality to a room and draws attention.
The value and allure of silicate brick lies in the stone’s relief and texture. Whether used au naturel or covered by a thin coat of paint with the emphasis on the structure, silicate walls can help to accent bright and neutral tones in an interior. It creates a good backdrop for highlighting design elements, items of furniture and artworks.
A wall that breathes
But silicate walls are more than just qualities that can be appreciated visually. The material is made from local Estonian materials – sand, lime and water. Silicate brick is natural through and through and supports a good indoor climate in the home.
Silicate brick reduces room temperature fluctuations and balances out relative humidity levels. Thanks to the heat-storing properties, the wall absorbs solar energy and also captures residual warmth from a home’s interior to later release it. This quality can lower heating bills, as it acts as a natural climate control device. A room with a brick wall will remain pleasantly warm in winter and cool in summer.
At the same time, brick is a good conduit for water vapour and doesn’t trap any moisture. The result: breathability and a good, stable level of air humidity. Homes that use natural brick experience few issues with mildew from excessive moisture, nor do they contribute to health problems from exposure to overly dry air.
“More and more homeowners are opting for natural breathable silicate brick instead of gypsum board as a panel or non-load-bearing walls. A designer wall made of silicate brick brings an organic ambience and accent to an interior, something that can’t be achieved with smooth, monotonous gypsum board,“ says Kristi Org, an interior designer with Aatrium, regarding Estonian preferences.
A properly laid brick wall needs little maintenance and will not need refurbishment years later. A brick wall can be cleaned with water and a cloth, with a little cleaning compound or household soap added if necessary. Due to their modest needs and long-term stability, silicate walls prove a very cost-effective solution.
In addition to interior walls, silicate brick can be used to impart a high degree of verisimilitude in kitchen furniture or shelves in country homes and city apartments with a more rustic style. Its qualities make it a good choice for damp rooms, such as a shower corner.
“Although the repeating pattern and clean contour lines keeps silicate walls from seeming intrusive, you still have to make sure there isn’t too much of it and that it doesn’t dominate a room, drowning out other furnishing elements. But we are the ones responsible for keeping an eye out for the right proportions and suitable balance,” adds Kristi Org.
The quality of the bricklaying is also important. Walls where the joints are finished with a great deal of refinement and a regular rhythm is maintained can be a joy to behold. We entrusted the laying of the silicate wall at Järve Keskus to one of the undisputed masters of our field, Aivar Kaur. “The silicate wall in the gallery of that shopping centre is a good example of a perfectly laid wall that would grace any home,” says interior designer Org regarding the designer wall along the second-floor walkway.
Unpretentious but impactful
The character of white silicate brick is unpretentious, which makes its integration with various furniture and colours very easy. At Järve Keskus, we paired silicate brick with modern bright-coloured furniture, beds and romantic knick-knacks. The result is perfect. “Brick has qualities that allow us to create a cosy but elegant balance with any furniture,” says Org, who expressed confidence in the abundance of ways to pair furniture and brick.