20 April 2021

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The bricks to be used across the new Emma site are sourced from Petersen Tegl. Tradition and heritage are at the heart of this Danish company, which has been run by the same family since 1791, and is now in the hands of the seventh and eighth generations. More than half of their bricks are made by hand, using the same traditional processes that have been used for centuries at their brickworks at Nybøl Nor.

Two brick samples standing against a brick wall(Above: Samples of brickwork for the College's new buildings)

With this history, Petersen Tegl bricks are a perfect choice for the Emma site, and the college’s own commitment to continuity with its past. The colours we have chosen mean that these new buildings will fit in well with the heritage and style of the historic Emmanuel site and the existing brick buildings such as Old Court (1634), the Hostel and Emmanuel House (1886–88).

Much like the college itself, Petersen Tegl are committed to not only honouring their rich history, but to combining this with a focus on the future, sustainability and responsibility. Indeed, it is the same age-old techniques of using the simple raw materials of clay, water and fire that make it an incredibly sustainable building material.

Sustainability begins right at the start of the process. During clay extraction, the top layer of ground is set aside to be replaced afterwards, meaning that the soil and groundwater are unaffected by the digging. Petersen use all the clay they extract, with any off-cuts or spare clay recirculated back into production. All the water used in the process is also recirculated, and since 2015 this has allowed them to decrease their water consumption by 75%.

The biggest environmental factor in the production is the need to burn the clay at a temperature of over 1000 degrees, to ensure the durability of the bricks. At Petersen Tegl, the heat from the furnaces is used twice, both to dry and to burn the stones, reducing to a minimum the unavoidable environmental costs of producing such high heat. Finally, because the bricks do not need additional treatments with chemicals, paint or wood protection, these are not introduced into the environment, something which is very important to the new Emma project and maintaining the college grounds.

On Petersen’s website they note ‘There are brick buildings around the world that are 3500 years old. More than 2/3 of the brick churches in Denmark are 700–800 years old’. We believe that this reflects the essence of what we are hoping to achieve in our extension of Emmanuel’s historic site. By using the same techniques and materials that have lasted centuries, we can truly build for the future in a way that is durable and sustainable.

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