Travel broadens the mind

It is a generally known fact that travel expands your horizons. Experience abroad often helps you appreciate things more in your own country. That’s how it was for me on a holiday in the southwest of the USA. Obvious to every Central European is the wide absence of a building culture there. On a trip through the country of boundless opportunity, you are treated to only few positive impressions in this respect. Apart from the city centres, for example of San Francisco, and the sometimes hermetically sealed off residential estates of the well-to-do, there is a broad mass of cheap and very cheap housing. Starting from higher-end caravans through mobile homes to standard residential properties. From the perspective of an “inhabitant of the old world”, even these quite average buildings tend to make a rather tawdry impression. The dismal wooden houses are almost all screaming out for a new coat of paint and the bitumen shingles on the roofs add to the shabby look of the buildings.

How beautiful in comparison is a Central or Southern European roofscape of clay-tiled roofs or the sight of an old harbour town built in the redbrick Gothic style. We all have to fight to ensure that this cultural heritage is preserved for future generations too. This is by no means a certainty, for in Europe too, clay brick masonry is under mounting pressure. Under the cloak of progress, building styles are now propagated that come close to those common in America’s West. You only have to take one look at the so-called “plus energy house” currently sent by Germany’s Federal Ministry of Building on a travelling exhibition across the country and you will certainly be reminded of a wooden barracks. If we don’t watch out, this trend to technology-overloaded, soulless structures will continue. Under the guise of sustainability, the timber industry is trying to move its building material into a stronger position. Ongoing tightening of Germany’s energy saving ordinance is being taken as an excuse to stuff houses full of technology and the obligation to use alternative energies is leading to roofscapes being increasingly disfigured with solar elements.

As an industry, it is, in my opinion, our task to work together with other interest groups to make sure that this cultural achievement of past generations is preserved and continues to be cared for – not just to promote the sale of our products, but also to preserve for future generations a townscape that is a delight to the eye and in which it’s worth living.


Martin Roth
General Secretary
Federal German Association of
the Brick and Tile Industry Regd. 

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