Walls and Structures

Techniques of the Timeless

Ramón Araujo 

Renzo Piano, Puerta La Valleta, Malta

The use of stone as a building material is being reconsidered completely. Many are the buildings that resort to it, for purposes other than cladding. Moreover, ongoing studies point to a future where stone plays a larger role.

The Modern Movement practically limited the use of natural stone to thin floors and facade claddings: a consequence of the new tendency towards lightness and non-loadbearing envelopes, but also of the generalized rejection of wall systems and 19th-century construction as a whole. Buildings like Le Corbusier’s Swiss Pavilion showed the technical solution that would soon be widespread in cladding facades: plaques of minimal thickness, affixed and anchored to a layer of brick. Stone thus became a cladding – like plaster – that made for continuous flat surfaces, emphasized by windows protruding from the facade line. This way of setting stone remains in use; in fact, the lightness and flatness have been reinforced with the so-called ‘ventilated facades,’ where the plated stone is made independent of the wall support to form an air chamber inside which goes the insulation...[+]

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