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A design studio in Colombia is tackling one of architecture’s growing energy challenges by using an unexpected traditional building material: brick.

Specializing in sustainable building, Sumart Design and Architecture created the Bloque Termodisipador, a ceramic building material, as a more energy-friendly alternative to traditional clay bricks.

The Bloque is shaped like a rectangle with an irregular scalene triangle stuck to its face. The angle has several advantages: the shape allows ventilation across the surface of the building, reducing the heat that is absorbed into the building’s interior. It also helps to shield the surface from direct sunlight, further reducing heat transfer.

Additionally, the Bloques can be combined in a variety of ways, and their hollow channels add soundproofing to their list of benefits. Their novel shape calls to mind the decorative cinderblock of West Coast mid-century façades. But unlike that distinctive feature, these bricks are more than decorative.