An evening discussion of the artistic and architectural potential of stone including a guided tour of Amin Taha Architects' Clerkenwell Close.
For many, stone remains synonymous with antiquity – a luxurious and inherently traditionalist material, its high cost consigning it to use in thin veneers and high-end hotels. A marble kitchen worktop may be an easy way to boost a property’s value but anything more substantial, is out of reach for most. Whether working in granite, limestone or slate there’s a widespread assumption that we just can’t build in stone anymore.
However, a new generation of designers are exploring stone in innovative and surprising ways. Last summer, Interrobang Architecture and Engineering proved their suspended stone floor design could span the same distance as reinforced concrete with less than half the depth and embodied energy. In Clerkenwell, Amin Taha Architects and Webb Yates Engineers are completing a new office building using a load-bearing stone facade to create a column-free interior and spectacular variegated elevation. At Highgate Cemetery, Craig Hamilton is putting the finishing touches to the Goldhammer tomb, the first new mausoleum to be built in the cemetery for a century, incorporating 4 tonne blocks of Indiana limestone on 19 metre pile foundations.
It is time to revisit our assumptions about stone of all kinds. For too long its technical potential and cultural symbolism have lain unchallenged. What could a revitalised interest in stone mean for contemporary construction? What if stone was seen not as the pricey epitome of bygone building methods, but as a cutting edge material with unique structural properties? Perhaps for 21st century architecture to advance, it is time for a return to the stoneage.
The Architecture Foundation and Webb Yates Engineers present an evening discussion of the past, present and future of stone including a guided tour of Amin Taha Architects' Clerkenwell Close and drinks reception.
Eric Parry, Eric Party Architects
Amin Taha, Amin Taha Architects
Maria Smith, Interrobang Architecture and Engineering
Steve Webb, Webb Yates Engineers
Adrian Forty, professor of architectural history and author