Practical blocks to work with

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Hollow clay blocks with dimensional stability make the construction process simpler. A look at what Wienerberger offers, by RANJANI GOVIND

Hollow clay blocks are earthy, season sensible, practical to work with and bring down your construction cost by more than 15 per cent, says architect Krishna Rao Jaisim (of Jaisim Fountainhead and Chairman, Indian Institute of Architects, Karnataka Chapter), who is a champion green architecture promoter. With the entry of Wienerberger Brick Industry's Indian manufacturing plant at Kunigal near Bangalore, the earthy blocks add another dimension to the growing sensibilities in the construction industry.

Wienerberger Brick Industry (a subsidiary of Vienna-based Wienerberger), in its first Asian plant in Karnataka, has an annual output of one lakh tonnes, and the company is the world's largest producer of clay hollow blocks with the second largest market for clay roof tiles in Europe.

The Austrian brick manufacturer's foray into the Indian market has brought in Porotherm (hollow clay blocks), an exclusive range of Terca facing bricks, Koramic clay roof tiles and Argeton façade tiles from Wienerberger's plants in Belgium, France, Germany and the Netherlands.

According to Ingo Hofmaier of the Wienerberger Brick Industry, “The demand for eco-friendly building materials is on the rise globally. While India yearns to go back to the ‘clay days' since the land has been the birthplace of clay brick architecture, we have the technology that would render the material in one of the finest forms to suit contemporary thinking, building with the green substance would lend an up-to-date perspective too.”

The company is working closely with architects and is keen to see all the variations being used in Indian constructions. “Our load-bearing clay hollow block forms a new concept which beats the heat due to its high thermal insulation properties,” says a company official.

Wienerberger's products have a ‘thermal insulation, twice as good compared to concrete blocks, and the blocks are half the weight of their concrete counterpart,' the written material from the company reads. “Let alone the architect, it is created for masons who will fine them uniform and perfect for laying, given the fact that it is machine made and wire cut,” says Hofmaier. The manufacturing plants are expertised to lend a dimensional stability for laying them perfect on the wall.

The telling difference

While a concrete block weighs 30 kg, a Porotherm clay block is only 11 kg, making it a lightweight for a non-load bearing wall. It is available in three sizes. Wienerberger's vertical and heavy load-bearing blocks have better insulation properties with grip holes, making it easier for masons to handle them. The company claims the blocks use three kinds of clay from Tumkur district mixed with the perfect blend of sand and silt.

Wienerberger tackles clay tanks where de-silting is a must but isn't going anywhere near agricultural land, officials confirm. Green architects too advise that lake bed clay would be a better bet as it would take care of sedimentation-clearing too. This would save the top soil from getting eroded. This is where hollow clay blocks score over hard bricks.

Wienerberger, extending its role from manufacturing construction products in clay bricks and roof tiles, gives “Brick Awards” to the most creative brick structures around the world once in two years.

“In this way, the world's largest producer of bricks acknowledges the undisputed role of bricks as a sustainable and ecological building material,” says Hofmaier.

Wienerberger's illustrated architecture book ‘brick 08' features 35 exceptional brick buildings from across the world.



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