10 school buildings with special brick facades

10 school buildings with special brick facades

11 Jul 2023  •  Specification  •  By Gerard McGuickin

In an interview with the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), it was proposed that good school building design should eliminate “cramped spaces, lack of natural light, and bad acoustics.” Moreover, “school buildings should relate to their surrounding community, each offering its unique set of challenges and opportunities” (Pisanu, 2018).

Brick is one particularly solid building material — both traditional and contemporary, it is extremely practical and durable. The key benefits of using brick in architecture include its resistance to the elements, non-combustibility, long life, and recyclability. Available in numerous colors and textures, brick has many aesthetic qualities.

The use of brickwork in school building design is especially warm, visual, and tactile. The schools listed here feature a range of special brick facades, each one built in the context of its local environment. In many cases, the brick regulates temperature, improves acoustics, and provides ventilation.


1. Rane Vidyalaya School

photo_credit LINK Studio
LINK Studio

Rane Vidyalaya School in Tiruchirappalli, India, was designed by Shanmugam Associates. Its structure was inspired by the walls of the 6th century Thiruvellarai Temple and the layered cross sections of 50-year-old homes in the region. The school’s facades were built using alternating layers of red wirecut bricks, sourced from a local kiln, and grey fly ash bricks, made from recycled industrial cement waste.


2. Moulon group of schools in Gif-sur-Yvette 

photo_credit Eugneni Pons
Eugneni Pons

Dominique Coulon & associés designed the Moulon group of schools in Gif-sur-Yvette, France. The brick facades use a pixelated gradation of color. Ranging from white to black, the facades project a lively pixel-like animation. 


3. Pascoe Vale Primary School

photo_credit Derek Swalwell
Derek Swalwell

Kosloff Architecture designed an extension to Pascoe Vale Primary School in Victoria, Australia. The original school building was created in the 1920s and is considered a fine example of neoclassical design. The new extension “continues the existing building’s masonry language and fine brick articulation,” says the architect.


4. Ban Ly School

photo_credit Son Vu
Son Vu

Ban Ly School sits in a small mountain village in the Sơn La province of Vietnam. In a project to renovate the school, 1+1>2 Architects aimed to realize a design that would achieve the necessary standards in relation to lighting, ventilation, and sound insulation. The school’s vernacular architecture incorporates earth brick walls made using soil from the excavation of the building’s foundation. The brick helps classrooms to stay cool in summer and warm in winter.


5. St Mary’s Calne School Library

photo_credit Woods Bagot and Will Pryce
Woods Bagot and Will Pryce

The library building for St Mary’s Calne School campus was designed by Woods Bagot. The rectangular pavilion is clad in decorative brick (there is one glazed facade) and topped with an articulated timber and glass roof. Brick “bookends” act as ancillary forms, containing storage, stairs, small project rooms, and warehouse control systems.


6. Murteira School

photo_credit Fernando Guerra
Fernando Guerra

In Santa Catarina da Fonte do Bispo, Portugal, NOZ Arquitectura refurbished the existing building of Murteira School and added a contemporary extension. Here, the studio used narrow bands of exposed brick in different colors, alluding to book spines on a bookshelf. Two different brick heights achieve subtle variations in texture.


7. Maharishi Vidya Mandir

photo_credit Triple O Pixel
Triple O Pixel

Maharishi Vidya Mandir is a school in the Indian city of Chennai. Designed by KSM Architecture, the school's facade performs a dual role: as a “building skin” it offers protection from the harsh sunlight and prevents birds from entering and roosting. Custom-made fly ash bricks were used and the brick jali (openwork) gives a diffuse illumination through the building. Framed panels are painted in primary colors, breaking up any sense of monotony in the facade.


8. Evergreen School

photo_credit CAUKIN Studio

CAUKIN Studio is a collective of architectural designers from Canada, the UK, and Indonesia. The studio worked in partnership with the Mothers of Africa charity to build four classrooms and a teacher's office for the Evergreen School in Chongwe, Zambia. The layered facades make use of “hit and miss” brickwork to increase airflow through the classrooms. The project utilized over 9,000 local bricks.


9. ASA Steam

photo_credit Leonardo Méndez
Leonardo Méndez

Equipo de Arquitectura studio’s design for the ASA Steam school in Asunción, Paraguay, is open and permeable, and works to reinforce visual and spatial connections. The brick brise-soleil responds to varied climatic conditions and engages in a dialogue with the building's immediate surroundings, taking old brick filters as a reference. Acting as a veil, the slender columns offer protection from the sun and rain, while ensuring natural light permeates through the building. 


10. European School Copenhagen

photo_credit Adam Mørk
Adam Mørk
photo_credit Hampus Berndtson
Hampus Berndtson

The European School Copenhagen was designed by Nord Architects and Vilhelm Lauritzen Architects. Set amidst the Danish capital’s historic Carlsberg buildings — in what is described as “an attractive neighborhood with outstanding, storytelling architecture” — the school reflects the city’s fascination with decorative brickwork. 



Pisanu, A. (2018) What makes a good school building?, Education Business. Available at: https://educationbusinessuk.net/features/what-makes-good-school-building (Accessed: 11 July 2023).