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Architects “can develop a brand new language” with stone says Aurore Baulier


ACAN Pure Supplies Group co-ordinator Aurore Baulier calls on architects to embrace stone’s pure qualities and reintroduce the fabric into their toolkits on this Stone Age 2.0 interview.

“Clearly, you possibly can form concrete into all these fancy types, however when you’re intelligent with stone, you are able to do unimaginable stuff,” Baulier informed Dezeen.

“Stone can be utilized for foundations, but additionally as a superstructure,” she continued. “A beam can truly be stone as an alternative of metal, minimising its carbon footprint.”

“Swapping conventional supplies – or supplies which might be conventional now – for stone will be completed.”

Exterior for 15 Clerkenwell Close
Prime: Aurore Baulier is asking on architects to make use of structural stone. Above: she believes stone needs to be embraced for its pure qualities. Picture of 15 Clerkenwell Shut by Timothy Soar

Baulier, who’s the director of London studio Atelier Baulier, spoke to Dezeen as a part of our Stone Age 2.0 collection, which is exploring the fabric’s potential to be a contemporary development materials.

She advocates for using structural stone as half Architects Local weather Motion Community (ACAN), the place she coordinates the Pure Supplies Group.

The group is asking for an industry-wide shift to pure constructing supplies, equivalent to stone, to assist minimise the {industry}’s carbon footprint and wider environmental impression.

In line with Baulier, using stone in development has comparable advantages to timber, one other biomaterial that’s being revived as a structural materials.

Stone needs to be harnessed for its energy

A key advantage of stone, not like the vast majority of constructing supplies, is that it may be used for development in its pure state. On the finish of a constructing’s helpful life, it will also be repurposed or just returned to the bottom.

“You simply dig the mattress and simply slice the stone or lower into the blocks you want,” defined Baulier.

“In the event you do not want the stone anymore, it is simply returned to the earth, and that is it,” she continued. “If it is completed responsibly then it will possibly simply be returned as part of nature.”

One other benefit of stone is that it has a naturally excessive compressive energy. Mixed with its moisture resistance, this ensures its sturdiness and potential to “age gracefully” as a development materials – as demonstrated by long-lasting Roman ruins.

To contextualise this, Baulier highlighted the energy-intensive course of of creating concrete, which requires stone, contemporary water and sand.

“To make concrete, you are taking a stone like Portland stone that has a compressive energy of about 200 Newtons per millimetre sq., you crush it, you burn it, you do all these processes which might be actually energy-intensive, and you find yourself with the fabric that’s about 40 Newtons per millimetre sq.,” Baulier defined.

This provides rise to a fabric that’s “about 20 per cent of the energy” of stone – a reality Baulier described as “mad”.

Stone “misplaced its function”

Baulier largely blames a lack of know-how about structural stone for its absence within the {industry} at present – one thing she is battling first-hand in her personal work as an architect.

“I have not been capable of specify stones as a structural materials myself but, but it surely’s positively one thing I have been trying into,” she stated.

“You want the appropriate group, and you then want a structural engineer on board, you want a shopper on board, and you then want builders on board. It is an entire group. It takes time.”

She defined this lack of know-how has additionally led to a false impression that stone is an costly constructing materials – a fallacy that has been bolstered by the way in which it’s mostly used at present.

“What is admittedly attention-grabbing is that stone is seen as a really costly materials due to over the past 70 years or 100 years, it got here away from being a load-bearing materials to veneer on a constructing,” she stated.

ACAN Natural Materials Group co-ordinator
Baulier is coordinator of the ACAN Pure Supplies Group

Moreover, it’s usually manufactured to “take away any so-called imperfection”, driving up prices.

“In the event you use the whole lot and embrace the so-called imperfection, then it turns into a really cost-effective materials,” she defined.

“It is simply misplaced its function, it is not ornamental,” she defined. “It is a actually various materials and actually robust, so it needs to be used for what it’s.”

“Additionally, it is rather more sustainable to make use of all of the stone accessible somewhat than choosing and discarding.”

To assist increase consciousness of the worth of stone past decoration, Baulier and ACAN’s Pure Supplies Group coordinated a video with consultants on the fabric. This types a part of a wider video collection led by ACAN the place consultants share insights into pure supplies.

Concurrently, the group is growing a booklet with “typical architectural particulars” for extra particular pure supplies, equivalent to stone, intending to offer “confidence to architects, builders and owners to make use of them”.

“As we see increasingly stone and pure supplies on the market, I believe individuals get a bit extra and excited and have extra confidence. So it is all about consciousness,” Baulier stated.

“[Stone] fits all scales,” she continued. “In all places on this planet, individuals have been constructing small stone sheds and big stone homes, I believe it is a very versatile materials.”

“As an alternative of getting a metal beam, why do not we now have a stone beam? It is an unimaginable function.”

Utilizing stone in hybrid constructions “much more sustainable”

A type of stone development Baulier is advocating for is stone “bricks”. She believes these can be utilized instead of common clay bricks, which require a extra energy-intensive manufacturing course of.

“Some quarries have began growing a brick that’s actually a stone brick the dimensions of a clay brick, so it is a very easy shift for individuals to truly transfer from away from a clay, which requires a whole lot of processing and fireplace and is energy-intensive,” she defined.

“Clearly, you continue to have the mortar challenge, which is more often than not cement as a result of it dries quicker, but when everybody had been to maneuver from clay brick to stone brick, that may be a very good method to begin chopping the carbon emissions within the constructed atmosphere.”

But, for her, probably the most thrilling and resourceful method to reintroduce stone into the toolkits of latest architects and builders is in tandem with timber as a hybrid construction.

“We have to construct on this on this planet however we now have to ensure we do not use an excessive amount of materials,” Baulier defined.

“Simply because you are able to do a stable wall in stone does not imply you ought to be doing it,” added Baulier. “A greater mixture is to begin truly having hybrid constructions with timber and stone.”

Lamure-Sur-Azergues covered market by Elisabeth Polzella
Baulier champions hybrid stone and timber constructions much like this market by Elisabeth Polzella. Picture by Georges Fessy

For instance, she stated a light-weight timber construction could possibly be married with stone foundations and slabs. In line with Baulier, that is among the many most sustainable methods to make use of stone and is a mirrored image of what she believes is the appropriate strategy to sustainable development normally – utilizing a mixture of supplies sparsely, harnessing them for his or her distinctive advantages.

“We will develop a brand new language, a brand new vernacular,” Baulier mirrored. “If we do a little bit of hybrid, then we will turn into much more sustainable and have extra resilient constructions as a result of we use the properties of each [timber and stone],” Baulier defined.

“I believe there is a new language invented there. And I believe that is actually thrilling.”

The portrait of Baulier is by Jim Stephenson.


Stone Age 2.0 illustration
Illustration by Risa Sano

Stone Age 2.0

This text is a part of Dezeen’s Stone Age 2.0 collection, which explores the potential of stone to be a viable, low-carbon, trendy structural materials.



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