The hearth has been the center for many things. From forging the first kiln around which man learned the masonry craft to marking the social focus of the traditional house, the hearth is the nexus that unites man and material. This thesis explores the hearth as the socio-artisanal fulcrum in the context of the brickfields of Mandra, a landscape dominated with furnaces dedicated to the craft of traditional brickmaking.

Using the hearth as the central element that ties all the brick-making processes, the project speculates on an architectural design that intangibly originates from the hearth while tangibly dependent on the utility of it. It takes the conventional design of the hearth and explodes it in the guise of sinuous masonry walls radiating from the core to create spaces for the proposed center of material research and innovation.

Nestled in the brickfields of Pakistan, Mandra Brickworks is the hearth exploded. It is the experience of walking along the ringed walls radiating from a central furnace, welcoming users from a radially sinking landscape into the controlled environment of a brickworks plant. What starts as a highly curated journey through an entry court turns into an intimate experience with the raw elements associated with the hearth.

We are led through water courts which funnel water into the building, over drying rooms where stacks of unfired bricks are stacked to incredulous heights, through steam courts which puff the heat from slumbering firing chambers below, and then around a working furnace that embodies the primitive energy hearth around which the first societies developed.



Site: Mandra, Pakistan
Program: Center for Material Research and Prototyping

Programmatic breakdown
The central 'Hearth': Central furnace and the firing court.
The inner masonry ring: Furnace dependent programs.
The outer masonry ring: Programs not dependent on the furnace.


Mandra Brickworks: Defining the Hearth of a Brickfield by Maira Yasir in Pakistan won the WA Award Cycle 36. Please find below the WA Award poster for this project.

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