Stones in Twentieth century

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The increasing industrialization of the 19th century, as well as rail transport, allowed a better distribution of stone material and the machining techniques. During the 19th century the practice of innovation on the application and techniques of processing and refining of the stone have not led to major discoveries because of a widespread, which saw a still widely use of classic means of construction.

New materials, such as iron, cast iron, glass and reinforced concrete, were beginning to be widely used in new construction (mainly industrial).

Auguste Perret was a great innovator who knew how to make the best use of the characteristics of new material (reinforced concrete) to build a new type of buildings that, thanks to the flexibility afforded by the iron and the strength of concrete, faced on the world stage as real innovations. In his studio will experience a lot of architects who will form the backbone of the modern movement such as Le Corbusier, Lubetkin.

The exponents of the modern architecture of the early 1900s, seemed to challenge the eclectic artists of the previous period (19th century), assuming the old material as a symbol of a new architectural language.

Important example is Otto Wagner, viennese artist, who used slabs of marble elegantly mounted as wall revetments, and helped develop a new ornamental language of architectural form.

Obviously like this conception of architectural ornament was thinking of another viennese artist as Adolf Loos. (Figure 1)

During the last century, the concept of wall coating was perfected as it denotes in the Palais Stoclet Josef Hoffmann in Brussels (1905), a residence designed for a wealthy financier where you sit the features of a luxury house with a museum. (Figure 2)

Hoffmann succeeded in creatin a domestic environment extremely sophisticated aura combining and blending formal characteristics with informal ones, prestigious elements with elements more humble.

The façade is here clad with stone here precious (white marble of Norway) which creates, conjugated with bronze frames, a dynamic sense of the entire complex.


In Spain the use of stone in architecture during the 20th century was expertly managed by Antoni Gaudí, who introduced with his works and worked to establish a new architectural style known as Art Nouveau.

This style is based on curved and sinuous forms reminiscent of natural elements such as the shapes of the tops of the trees or, in the case of Antoni Gaudì, forms resulting from deep marine environments that evoke different feelings, as if these environments created by him had surfaced over the centuries and were placed perfectly into the surrounding environment.

Language development and technical-constructive at the same time, the stone material, seems to have accomplished during the 20th century in much of Europe Perhaps the work that embodies more than the others this phenomenon is the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies Van der Rohe designed and built for the international exhibition of 1929.

The Pavilion, whose principal function was to welcome the King and Queen of Spain by the German Ambassador, consisted of a series of horizontal slabs that seemed to float in the air, supported by cruciform pilasters actually chromates. (Figure 3)

Inner and outer space was continuously connected by creating in the visitor a series of real and perceived environment.

The stone materials used such as: travertino romano, Tinos Greek and Golden Onyx are valuable, in contrast with the later influences of Mies van der Rohe that will use cheaper materials because of the worldwide Depression began with the collapse of the Wall Street stock market of 1929.

The concepts expressed by Mies van der Rohe in the Pavilion in Barcelona in 1929, will be taken up by the artist himself, during the design of Villa Tughendhat (near Brno) where the living room is divided by partitions of pink and Golden Onyx. (Figure 4)


During the 20th century, in America the stone was successfully used by Frank Llyod Wright, whose "Fallingwater" or better known as “House on the waterfall”, embodies the personal style of organic architecture.

In this residence, designed for the millionaire Edgar j. Kaufmann, the stone is rustically treated as a predominant element for the project. It creates a nucleus on the side of the mountain from which branch off a series of concrete bases in contrast with the stone material. Inside the chimney, made from local stone, is one of the most important elements since it embodies the concept of "fire" around which are arranged the other rooms, dear to the architect. (Figure 5)