• International Journal of Technology (IJTech)
  • Vol 11, No 7 (2020)

Sun-Drying in Traditional Brickmaking: Strategies for Achieving Efficiency

Sun-Drying in Traditional Brickmaking: Strategies for Achieving Efficiency

Title: Sun-Drying in Traditional Brickmaking: Strategies for Achieving Efficiency
Mochammad Mirza Yusuf Harahap, Rini Suryantini, Kristanti Dewi Paramita, Yandi Andri Yatmo

Corresponding email:

Cite this article as:
Harahap, M.M.Y., Suryantini, R.Paramita, K.D., Yatmo, Y.A., 2020. Sun-Drying in Traditional Brickmaking: Strategies for Achieving Efficiency. International Journal of Technology. Volume 11(7), pp. 1414-1421

Mochammad Mirza Yusuf Harahap Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Rini Suryantini Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Kristanti Dewi Paramita Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Yandi Andri Yatmo Department of Architecture, Faculty of Engineering, Universitas Indonesia, Kampus UI Depok, Depok 16424, Indonesia
Email to Corresponding Author

Sun-Drying in Traditional Brickmaking: Strategies for Achieving Efficiency

This study investigated the utilization of currently available energy and its implication on the ecological production of architecture materials. The study focused on the sun-drying process used by craftsmen in the traditional brickmaking process, arguing that such a practice demonstrates ways of utilizing current energy that are informed by local knowledge and are ecological. Such a brick drying process was observed at two sites of traditional brickmaking in Central Java, Indonesia. The result of the study indicated that the drying process in brickmaking utilized various exposure strategies to maximize the potential amount of heat from the sun that can be transferred to the bricks, which in turn influenced the flow of the production process. The study then discussed the potential applications of such knowledge in the modern brick manufacturing process to create a more ecological production of architecture materials.

Architecture material; Ecology; Local knowledge; Sun-drying; Traditional brickmaking


The population increase has contributed to a high demand for bricks in our society (Holley, 2009), triggering the industrialization of brickmaking. The production of bricks on a large scale, however, is notorious for its environmental impact (Darain et al., 2015) as it contributes to air pollution (Tahir and Rafique, 2009; Darain et al., 2015) and excessive land cultivation, resulting in a threat to the ecosystem (Singh and Asgher, 2005). The forces behind the industrialization of brickmaking have mostly ignored the threat and tend to solely emphasize the efficiency of brickmaking to meet the demand without fully considering its environmental impacts (Holley, 2009). The practice is in contrast with the spirit of positive development that not only facilitates economic activity, but also the idea of sustainability, which considers environmental impacts (Berawi, 2016; Baper et al., 2020). This is unfortunate especially considering that industrialization that utilizes recent technology could be a means of mitigating unwanted environmental impacts through its expected capability for sustainability (Yusuf et al., 2018).

Notably, the traditional brickmaking practice performed by local craftsmen on a relatively small scale is a process that is connected to the wider ecology (Atmodiwirjo et al., 2018). Traditional brickmaking is a process based on local knowledge that is focused on the environmental  cycle  of  natural  resources  and  using  the  renewable  energy available in nature (McDonough, 1996). However, such a use of natural resources is not necessarily straightforward. Various strategies are required to attain the maximum usage of the energy that is currently available. This, in turn, influences the overall flow of production. Therefore, understanding such strategies is key to promoting energy usage that is more ecologically friendly. With this in mind, this paper attempts to explore the utilization of current energy in traditional brick production, particularly sun exposure and wind currents. This paper will begin by outlining the significance of the current energy discussion in architecture material production, focusing on the drying phase of traditional brickmaking as a model of current energy use. Then, the traditional brickmaking process that were observed will be examined, and connections will be drawn between the energy uses in brickmaking and their relation to other elements and stages in the overall production process. This exploration will be followed by the discussion of the findings of the study and the potential implication of the results on the production of architecture materials.


The sun-drying phase in traditional brickmaking, as observed at the two locations of the study, Ambarawa and Welahan, demonstrated the use of current energy as part of the ecological aspect of architecture material production. Such a use of current energy drove the stages and responses that shaped the process of sun-drying, from maximum exposure to less exposure to the heat from the sun in order to achieve a certain level of dryness. In achieving this dryness, what mattered was not only the environmental conditions but also the craftsmen’s strategies of alternating between or maximizing different forms of current energy. These strategies influenced the way the bricks were laid down, arranged, positioned, stacked, and covered and were constrained by the consistency of the clay mixture, the field space availability, and the low-tech equipment that limited the potential interventions that could be performed during the process. Interestingly, the craftsmen’s strategies and responses informed a production of architecture material intertwined with everyday life. They depicted spatial operations that were conducted in a quotidian environment instead of in a controlled and strict one (Atmodiwirjo and Yatmo, 2019). Other than the display of such strategies, the use of current energy also drove the fluctuating flow of the different production stages, influencing the beginning and the end of each phase beyond the drying phase.

This paper points out that the use of current energy, the craftsmen’s strategies, and the fluctuating flow of brick production, which often consists of phases done simultaneously, provides potential knowledge for the future industrialization of brickmaking. An important lesson, for example, can be derived from the way efficiency is achieved through developing local strategies instead of relying on the innovation of the machines. In addition, while the fluctuating flow of brick production may not seem beneficial, it provides enough time to prepare for the firing process, which requires a high amount of an immediate form of energy and accumulation of material. In this sense, investigating the current energy use expands the understanding of efficient, ecological methods that focus on the interconnection between humans, materials, and the environment. This study, however, only focused on the qualitative aspects of the sun-drying phase. Future studies which focus more on the quantitative aspects of the process may develop a better understanding of such efficiency by exploring in detail, the temporality of the production process, measuring the time taken by craftsmen to mold, stack, arrange, and relocate each brick in order to inform the flow of overall brick production. In future studies, an airflow simulation might also be conducted to investigate the optimal gap needed between the bricks to dry them thoroughly. 


    This research is supported by Penelitian Dasar Ristekdikti 2020, a research grant (contract number: NKB-69/UN2.RST/HKP.05.00/2020) provided by The Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education of the Republic of Indonesia.

Supplementary Material
R1-A-4458-20201130075300.jpg Figure 1
R1-A-4458-20201130075319.jpg Figure 2

Atmodiwirjo, P., Johanes, M., Saginatari, D.P., Yatmo, Y.A., 2018. Ecological Aspects of the Traditional Brick Making Process in Pedurungan Kidul, Central Java. E3S Web of Conferences, Volume 67, p. 04034

Atmodiwirjo, P., Yatmo, Y.A., 2019. Interiority in Everyday Space: A Dialogue between Materiality and Occupation. Interiority, Volume 2(1), pp. 1–4

Atmodiwirjo, P., Yatmo, Y.A., 2020. Tanahku Indonesia: On Materialscape as the Materiality of a Nation. Architecture and Culture, pp. 1–22, DOI: 10.1080/20507828.2020.1774850

Baper, S., Khayat, M., Hasan, L., 2020. Towards Regenerative Architecture: Material Effectiveness. International Journal of Technology. Volume 11(4), pp. 722–731

Berawi, M.A., 2016. Accelerating Sustainable Infrastructure Development: Assuring Well-Being and Ensuring Environmental Sustainability. International Journal of Technology, Volume 7(4), pp. 527–529

Carey, J., 2018. Indeterminate duration. Interiority, Volume 1(2), pp. 185–202

Dalk?l?ç, N., Nabiko?lu, A., 2017. Traditional Manufacturing of Clay Brick used in the Historical Buildings of Diyarbakir (Turkey). Frontiers of Architectural Research, Volume 6(3), pp. 346–359

Darain, K.M.ud., Jumaat, M.Z., Islam, A.B.M.S., Obaydullah, M., Iqbal, A., Adham, Md.I., Rahman, Md.M., 2015. Energy Efficient Brick Kilns for Sustainable Environment. Desalination and Water Treatment, Volume 57(1), pp. 105–114

Demir, I., 2008. Effect of Organic Residues Addition on the Technological Properties of Clay Bricks. Waste Management, Volume 28(3), pp. 622–627

Gomes, E., Hossain, I., 2003. Transition from Traditional Brick Manufacturing to More Sustainable Practices. Energy and Sustainable Development, Volume 7(2), pp. 66–76

Gualtieri, A.F., Ricchi, A., Gualtieri, L.M., Maretti, S., Tamburini, M., 2016. Kinetic Study of the Drying Process of Clay Bricks. Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry, Volume 123(1), pp. 153–167

Handayani, S., 2010. Kualitas Batu Bata Merah dengan Penambahan Serbuk Gergaji (Quality of Red Bricks with the Addition of Sawdust). Jurnal Teknik Sipil dan Perencanaan, Volume 12(1), pp. 41–50

Holley, I.B., 2009. The Mechanization of Brickmaking. Technology and Culture, Volume 50(1), pp. 82–102

Johanes, M., Wahid, A.R., 2018. Tanahku Indonesia: Celebrating the Indigenous Interior. Interiority, Volume 1(1), pp. 79–86

Kadir, A.A., Sarani, N.A., 2012. An Overview of Wastes Recycling in Fired Clay Bricks. International Journal of Integrated Engineering, Volume 4(2), pp. 53–69

Lakho, N.A., Zardari, M.A., 2016. Structural Properties of Baked Clay Bricks Fired with Alternate Fuels. Engineering, Volume 8(10), pp. 676–683

McDonough, W., 1996. Design, Ecology, Ethics and the Making of Things. In: Theorizing a New Agenda for Architecture: An Anthology of Architectural Theory. Princeton Architectural Press, pp. 400–407

Nuroso, H., Supriyadi., Sudarmin, S., Sarwi., 2018. Identification of Indigenous Science in the Brick-Making Process through Ethnoscience Study. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, Volume 983(1), pp. 1–5

Sadar, J.S., 2018. Quasi-Materials and the Making of Interior Atmospheres. Interiority, Volume 1(1), pp. 49–63

Sarkar, R., Kurar, R., Gupta, A.K., Mudgal, A., Gupta, V., 2017. Use of Paper Mill Waste for Brick Making. Cogent Engineering, Volume 4(1), pp. 1–15

Singh, A.L., Asgher, S., 2005. Impact of Brick Kilns on Land Use/Landcover Changes around Aligarh City, India. Habitat International, Volume 29(3), pp. 591–602

Sudarsana, I.K., Budiwati, I.A.M., Wijaya, Y.A., 2011. Karakteristik Batu Bata Tanpa Pembakaran Terbuat dari Abu Sekam Padi dan Serbuk Batu Tabas (Characteristics of Uncooked Bricks Made from Rice Husk Ash and Tabas Stone Powder). Jurnal Ilmiah Teknik Sipil, Volume 15(1), pp. 93–101

Tahir, S.N.A., Rafique, M., 2009. Emission of Greenhouse Gases (GHGs) from Burning of Biomass in Brick Kilns. Environmental Forensics, Volume 10(4), pp. 265–267

Wahid, A.R., Yatmo, Y.A., Paramita, K.D., 2020. More than Just a Material Perfection: Preserved Human-Environment Relationship in Traditional Brick-Making Scenarios. Journal of Physics: Conference Series, Volume 1655, pp. 1–7

Yusuf, M.F., Ashari, H., Razalli, M.R., 2018. Environmental Technological Innovation and Its Contribution to Sustainable Development. International Journal of Technology, Volume 9(8), pp. 1569–1578