Zuzanna Skurka

Material translation, design and research




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    Brick Works

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    Brick Blankets Walls Curtains

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    Learning from Minecraft

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    Brick Textiles

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    Local Bricks

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    Analysis of Postnatural Geologies


Scroll to
  • zuzanna_skurka_brick-works_6154_mini

    Brick Works

  • zuzanna-skurka_anwyn-howarth-8779-mini

    Brick Blankets Walls Curtains

  • learning_from_minecraft_17_mini

    Learning from Minecraft

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    Brick Textiles

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    Local Bricks

  • zuzanna_skurka_research-site_mini

    Analysis of Postnatural Geologies

Brick Works


Brick sketches in terracotta, 2022

  • Cross-disciplinary research on a potential of a brick. Collection of bricks exploring questions within the topic of design, craft, architecture, ecology, politics and society. Project containing of a brick prototypes as well as research materials.

  • Bricks presented are ranging from architecturally functional bricks as well as these anti commercial ones, which are being functional in other ways.

  • Project started with an analyses and design of clay bricks, but expanded into investigation of alternative material solutions. Most of these materials are not immediately applicable in an industrial understanding, but hopefully are functional to our understanding of issues.


Brick Works, research map


Prototyping, fantasizing, material translating, baking, molding, firing, crushing, and forming again. What bricks should be made from and for whom?

Brick and a brick form material prototypes

  • The aim was to rethink how we manufacture as well as rethink the customer of a bricks, and point on contradictions in concepts of human centre and nature centre design.


Brick Works, setting 1, mixed madia: terracotta, unfired red clay, wood, pigment, bread, seeds, soil, dirt, 2022

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Brick Works, setting 1, 2022

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Brick Making Manual, wooden frame, instructions, 2022

Brick Blankets Walls Curtains


"Brick Blankets Walls Curtains" exhibition view, at De Fabriek, Eindhoven (NL) photo: Anwyn Howarth

  • Material translation of over 100-year-old bricks from the demolished barn into new architectural and interior elements. 

  • The project is part of an ongoing investigation of bricks, focused on their ecological, architectural, and social aspects. Brick Works aims to narrate new ways of making architecture and producing objects and materials made from bricks. 

  • The work can be classified as something between ceramics and textiles. Or as an attempt of architecture made from architecture, made from over 100-year-old bricks found in my great-grandparent's field in Poland. They were abandoned there after the demolition of a neighbor's barn. Those old bricks so rich in oxides resulting in an intensely deep orange color of the material allowed to develop a range of orange shades. Finely ground brick has been mixed with biopolymer, natural softener, and water. The material was then printed, knitted, painted, and extruded to produce surfaces of different visual and technical qualities. 


Saturation of brick shades

Adding more and more brick powder resulted in the color and texture change. photo: Anwyn Howarth

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Exhibition view at De Fabriek, photos by Anwyn Howarth


Exhibition view at De Fabriek, photos by Anwyn Howarth

photos: Anwyn Howarth

  • Brick Textiles from which the works have been crafted is a material produced in collaboration with Natural Material Studio. The first phase of the research was launched at the Alcova 2023 exhibition during the Milan Design Week. 

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Brick wall with a door


Hand-printed brick pattern over a painted brick surface


  • Objects are made through a combination of techniques.: painting, hand printing, and spraying.

  • Material is re-castable, and all the work made from the brick textile can be turned back into brick powder


Exhibition view at De Fabriek, photos by Anwyn Howarth

Learning from Minecraft


Exhibition view: slide show, materials translation of an architectural structure from the physical to Minecraft, architecture in Minecraft by Ignacy Skurka, photo : Michał Maliński

  • An attempt to translate materials into the digital. How many times players of Minecraft have been building with clay blocks inside the game and how many times with the physical clay? How does the understanding of materials change when its being digitalised? And it is nacessarily always with a loss when in digital?

  • The game is in a way based on the pre-industrial fantasy. There is no plastic in Minecraft! But you can find mycelium block, moss carpet, coral reef or honeycomb. There are also some fantasy elements characteristic to computer games like dragon eggs and fruits of imaginary plants, but more interesting are the natural materials represented in the game that are in the scarcity of extinction in reality, being preserved inside Minecraft.


Bricks walls, photo: Michał Maliński


Exhibition view, photo: Michał Maliński

  • The project is a translation of an over 100 years old brick barn which is currently undergoing reconstruct in real life. Constructed originally from brick, the building was repaired and renovated over the years with mostly variations of bricks and concrete. The barn is currently being expanded and in that process one of the walls got injected with modern industrial building materials. It looks complex when exposed, to be invisible and function without causing a need for repair after.

  • Translation of the hole in the brick barn wall to Minecraft with the emphasis on the properties of the materials, their interactions and mining possibilities. The aim of the translation is to investigate the direction of a further reverse translation: from Minecraft back to the physical materials used for the renovation / architectural reconstruction. Examination how the Minecraft ecology and its established rules can work as a tool pointing to new possibilities in the irl material research.

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Material analysis of the wall in the brick barn, physical and in Minecraft

  • The selection of the materials used in the translation were guided by their visual properties and technical performance. Following the in-game rules of gravity and matter interactions, the beyond real possibilities as well as disabilities, the use of certain materials was not possible, and pushed us to come up with alternatives.

  • Polypropylene insulating fabric found on site was translated into wool carpet in Minecraft. If translating back to the physical the use of felt insulation would be most fitting, material used widely for this exact purpose for decades. Above example would suggest that the backward translation, from Minecraft to irl, would result in retiring to the traditional construction practises.

  • Posing a question from the position of material translator:

  • Can we make it in bricks, because it was made out of bricks before? Can the new syntactic structural elements be translated into the brick composites? Like brick styrofoam? Brick concrete? Brick insulation wool? Quasi brick fibers?


Translucent and flexible brick wall prototyped out of brick textile, photo: Michał Maliński

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Brick wall detail, photo: Michał Maliński


Entrance in the brick wall, photo: Michał Maliński

  • Learning from Minecraft: All the Things You Can Make with Bricks

  • Art Industry Standart, Kraków (PL) 28.08.23- 17.09.2023

  • Curator: Piotr Policht
    Art handling: Bartek Buczek
    Minecraft architecture: Ignacy Skurka

Brick Textiles


Brick Textile at Alcova, Milan 2023

  • With the material installation ‘Brick Textiles - Weaving bricks back into architecture’, made in collaboration with Natural Material Studio we want to re-think the symbolic, tectonic, and semiotics of bricks to create an expanded understanding of architecture today for the future. .

View from the exhibition at Alcova. Brick Textile, architectural installation in collaboration with Natural Material Studio

  • When we look at a brick, it is almost synonymous with solid, structural, and protective walls. But what if bricks could also represent the opposite qualities and properties — soft, flexible, tactile, transparent? The installation explores how we can work with bricks in a new way technically and conceptually, while maintaining links with the past.


Brick curtain prototype

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Presentation at Habitare Materials

Local Bricks

  • Going back to ‘local’ is proposed as one of the solutions to the global climate crisis. But being local is not free from global responsibilities. Local extraction focused solely on local raw, and natural materials is a problematic practice.

  • What would the new local look like if we would use a broader spectrum of materials instead of continuing the extraction of natural resources?

  • The presented collection is a materials translation of a brick. Result of an attempt to reimagine how locally produced bricks can look like.

  • Based on clay from Bornholm and native fibers as well as artificial matter found in the ground like concrete and asphalt, are pointing out the contradictions in human-centered and nature-centered design as well as offering tools to reimagine architecture.


List of local bricks prototypes: 1. stone, almost a brick 2. soil with organic matter: apple peels and watercress seeds 3. red clay with straw fiber 4. coarse gravel 5. red clay with bricks after demolition 6. plastic from the sea 7. straw 8. clay with dried seaweed fiber 9. porcelain with seeds humans cannot eat 10. recycled bricks with natural binder 11. wood 12. brick after demolition: brick, cement, soil 13. compressed grass 14. wild clay 15. rammed earth: soil, clay, sand, gravel 16. sand with natural binder 17. plastic from the ground 18. asphalt 19. bread or brick? 20. red clay with seeds humans can eat 21. brick making manual graphic by Funch Studio

Brick made from materials forund in the grounds of Nexo, Denamark, 2022


Analysis of Postnatural Geologies


Analyis of Postnatural Geologies, 9 bricks made from materials found in the research site, in the grounds in Nexo, Denamark, 2022

  • The form of a brick speaks about the human body; the size referencing a human hand. Its materiality reflects changes in geology as well as geopolitics. A single brick does not hold many functions, but it does communicate architectural potential. There is beauty and possibility in this ubiquitous object. Yet it is entangled in so many of our current issues.

  • Brick as a composition of the materials extracted from the ground, for centuries was reflecting the potential of local geologies. But since more than three-quarters of the world’s bricks are produced in South-East Asia, that is a fantasy from the past.

  • What is under the ground of the regions we live in, especially the urban areas, is far from a romanticised idea of the untouched. Human-made materials outweigh the Earth’s entire biomass, and the subterranean land- scapes reflect this, as well.


The geological map of Bornholm (without Quaternary sediments), 1960

  • My process of brick production starts with finding the extraction site, usually a fragment of a road or pavement dug up for repairs. At the end of the construction worker’s workday, it becomes my re- search site.

  • It is a rare chance to analyse the structure and systems of modern geology that are hidden from us. It looks chaotic, random, mutant! It is hard to name and distinguish what is the function of all these elements. What is nutritious to the ecosystem and what is fundamental to the social needs?

  • My bricks are naive material translations, immediate prototypes made out of materials extracted from local holes dug out in Nexø, on the island of Bornholm, Denmark.

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Left: photo of research site, Nexo, Denmark, 2022
Middle: material map of research site, 2022 graphic by Funch Studio
Right: coloured material map, 2022

Visited construction sites around Nexo


Minecraft translation of the research site, 2022

  • Minecraft somehow joins almost all my interests in this project. In the game you build out of blocks, which is based on the analog Lego bricks idea. The digital brick in this very direct way is referring to the “craft” in the name of the game. Most of the materials in the game are representations of natural matter.

  • The game is in a way based on the preindustrial fantasy. There is no plastic in Minecraft! But you can find mycelium block, tall grass, moss carpet or honeycomb. There are also some fantasy elements characteristic to computer games like dragon eggs.

  • But more interesting are the natural materials represented in the game that are in the scarcity of extinction in reality. They are being preserved in digital reality, although honey comb in Minecraft exist separately from the presence of bees.

  • There is a video on YouTube Minecraft, What’s the point? (2014). I treat it as a philosophical question about the sense of human life, craft, art, and architecture.

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Photo of the research site and the Minecraft material translation, 2022

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