A message to my good friend brick.

Dear Brick,

I received your contact details from the great architect Louis Kahn who famously asked you so many years ago at University of Pennsylvania, “What do you want, brick?” I have a new question for you.

Large numbers migrated to informal cities throughout the 20th century, ushering a new age of the world’s largest urban sprawls, a phenomenal growth with severe environmental consequences. Informal dwellers are unable to build homes more than three floors, thus spreading certain city boundaries more than 20km in every direction. Mexico City is an example of this unmanageable growth that Ricky Burdett (LSE Urban Age) has described as “extends endlessly in all directions like an oil-spill … has no chance of becoming sustainable”.

For 8,000 years you have had six sides. Opportunity exists to upgrade yourself with as many sides as a material can tolerate. Mud is cheap, abundant, recyclable, everlasting and thermally suitable for comfort. 3D printing is a zero-waste addictive process that will allow the production of new forms that are cheaper, stronger, lighter and more intelligent than previous construction. The informal city can rise safe against disaster.

Therefore I ask, what form would you like to to be, brick?

Using the web to spread this “form” throughout the world, the disruption is not intended to change one billion people in cities like London and New York, but to introduce architecture, engineering and urban design to five billion people that have never seen it before.

Look forward to your response,

James.