If you close your eyes and think of Toronto, you will likely picture the ubiquitous brick row houses that line its streets. Now, take a closer look at this view and you might find some imposters. They are hard to spot at first glance, garbed in camouflage cladding known as Inselbrick.
Inselbrick is a thin asphalt and fibreboard siding material stamped with patterns to imitate brick and stone cladding. Popular in Canada during the 1930s and 40s, it was touted as a miracle building material that would eliminate the need for painting and prevent pesky drafts through its insulating characteristics. In addition to these features, it was advertised as a new material that could transform your modest house into an elegant and timeless brick edifice. In Toronto, there are still a number of houses where Inselbrick was installed. Over time, as the siding material wears away and starts to peel off, some buildings clad in this material are now more apparent than others.
While this particular material didn’t quite live up to its marketing hype due to lack of maintenance and durability, conceptually we are drawn to this application’s graphic potential. It strikes us as a form of exterior wallpaper that could be stamped with a range of bold patterns, colours or textures. The potential for reinvention and camouflage in architecture could be limitless!