The stone in contemporary architecture

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In recent years, within the vast world of industrial processing of stone material, are innovating new techniques that allow this material to remain one of the most valuable and most consumed within the construction industry.

This transformation involves the entire branch of production: from the extraction of the blocks in a quarry to the achievement of final machining processes increasingly refined.

The mechanization and computerization of the phases of cutting and installing allows this material to be also at the forefront in the complementary use with new modern materials, allows masonry applications never before used and also greatly enhances the static characteristics and safety.

Knowing the various steps of the production of a particular material, the architect can experiment with new fields of application, creating new trends and fantasizing on new uses, in addition to successfully exploit the full potential of the material. For this reason, it is imperative, especially in the field of stone, learn about the history and its use from the very dawn of civilization and transposition for the needs of today's.

If you look at the work of Giovanni Michelucci for the seat of Monte dei Paschi di Siena to Colle di Val d'Elsa (Figure 1), it denotes all the appreciation of the material in its natural appearance, it is also stated the attempt on the part of the architect, to force the architectural logic by acting on the battle between matter and structure, the first equipped with forces whispering, the second equipped with the most paradoxical plastic deformations.

Also in the draft Drocco, Gabetti and Isola for the Monastery of the Carmelites at Quart (Valle d’Aosta), the trim and the cover are dealt with through a strong emphasis structural and architectural to reconcile the surrounding nature composed of jagged peaks and distant horizons, with the very essence of the building itself. (Figure 2)

In the antiquity the masonry structures were characterized by impressive and massive stone blocks that, with the passing of centuries and the improvement of processing techniques, and of laying, have been progressively replaced with thin wall hangings.

One of the features that has elevated this material to one of the most used in the building and ornamental and without a shadow of doubt, the flexibility and integration that this has with other materials.

A shining example of this combination is represented by angular composition of Taisei Corporation, for the Ryukakusan Building in Tokyo that, in addition to having a harmonious relationship with the context, is characterized by successful intention to amalgamate stone and glass in the upper part of the structure.    (Figure 3)

The combination of colors and strengthened both by the fact that they have been used different materials, and by the fact that were decided different types of laying. The first type is traditional for the laying of the plates, from the first on the second floor, the second is the technique called "precast" i.e. the granite slabs are laid on concrete panels that are linked to the backbone of steel.


Another interesting example of construction valued by the combined use of stone and bricks and the Banca Toscana in Pistoia, Toraldo di Francia. The building is characterised by the bipartite treatment of the coating The base is lined with bricks alternated in a modular fashion with full or empty in conjunction with the rhythm marked by internal arrangements, the upper floor, offices, and characterized by a coating of white marble from Carrara marble that, by working with the process of the ventilated facade, also allows the process of natural ventilation. (Figure 4)

In the architectural field is therefore vital and valuable cooperation among the various compositional elements to create integrated buildings that promote the maximization of the products and to exploit the best ones that are the characteristics and qualities of the different materials.

The designer, through the use of different categories of materials, makes use of an unlimited series of pattern texturali that provide the expression of the building complex. In the surface treatment of stone-like material as a coating, it has been noted a change from the Thirties to the seventies of the Twentieth Century, favored the development of the system of the joints, which enables a uniform treatment of "pure surface current".

In some rare cases of architecture in stone, such as the railway station of Florence designed by Michelucci or the Casa del Fascio of Terragni in Como (where there is a strict symmetry is in plan view that elevation), the detail of the joint lining made of marble, while undergoing a process of connectorization, continues to express intense expressive strength. (Figure 5)

To this day there is a drawing of the prospectuses more processed, which are made up through the correct reading of associative rules of the plates and a correct verification of new connection systems and anchoring.

Thanks to the evolution of these systems, the world of stone has gained new momentum and continue the development and implementation of facades consist of high degrees of compositional freedom.

A language eclectic, with ancient reminiscences, is found in some projects today that use the stone material for architectural composition. An example is the project of the Bank to raise Brianza of Adolfo Natalini. Here the duotone is used simply for pictorial purposes, exalted and obtained by the use of serizzo gray coupled with granite clear and worked with different surface treatments (opaque, glossy).

The monumentality and the recall of the ancient are emphasized by the design of the weaving and the correctness geometry of the system

The coating seems to have stopped, because there are gaps from 7 millimeters between stone and stone that enables the realisation of the ventilated facade. (Figure 6)