"Architecture starts when you carefully put two bricks together. There it begins."
Or so said the German-American architect Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe in a 1959 interview with the New York Herald Tribune. At the time brick might not have been considered the most fashionable of materials, but Mies was a longtime supporter of the solid block.
He's not the only one: From the palaces Ming Dynasty and the monuments of the Middle East, to the solid brick walls of the Kremlin and the ornate, opposing red brick towers of London's St Pancras International station, brick is one of the most recognizable and surprisingly picturesque materials across the world.
Brick construction dates back as far as 7500 BC, when, in modern Syria, people were using sun-dried bricks to construct dwellings. (The fired bricks we're more used to today didn't appear until 3500 BC.)
Such is their historic importance that bricks were even name-checked in the Biblical Book of Genesis, when people sought to "make bricks and burn them thoroughly" to construct the Tower of Babel.
Brick's use and popularity has not feigned one bit over the millennia, and remains popular today, as the images in "100 Contemporary Brick Buildings,"
a new title from architecture writer Philip Jodidio, demonstrate. Take a look at the gallery above for some of today's most extraordinary examples.
"100 Contemporary Brick Buildings"
by Philip Jodidio, published by Taschen, is out now.
TACHEN's "100 Contemporary Brick Buildings" is released in August