A Natural Symphony in Stone
by Marissa SesePosted on September 25, 2017 07:00:00 AM
In tune with environmental consciousness, more architects nowadays design around resonant geological forms to connect to the natural environment. Creating an evocative symphony in stone, harmonious and in tune with the elements, modern design blends many forms into a fine structure, building upon it to create a resonance that evokes an enduring sense of beauty. Like a good symphony, today’s design tends to the senses, whilst also flawless, efficient and simple in structure.
With a profound understanding of natural stone and its evocative language, aided by insights into technical structure and design, architects use the inherent potential of natural stone to its best advantage. To say that natural stone evokes a sense of authentic beauty is, perhaps, an understatement, but its innate properties in this technology-driven age allow its use in many applications more cost-effectively than any other material.
Sophisticated mining techniques like water-jet-cutting improve recovery rates of granite and reduce operational costs of quarrying every day. This, together with advances in fabrication and finishing styles and competitive global trade make natural stone very cost effective. Synthetic, manmade materials find it difficult to compete with natural stone - the price differential is simply not enough to merit a compromise on the aesthetics and qualities of natural stone.
Granite, for example, is becoming increasingly affordable, with fine specimens from China and India available freely in the market today. One of the strongest stones in the world, its impressive resistance to abrasion makes it an exceptional choice in long-lasting high traffic flooring. Granite does not stain, or scratch easily, and is chemical resistant; these qualities allow for easy, low-cost maintenance. Additionally, granite is economical in the long run, lasting for decades on end, and eliminating replacement and remodeling costs.
Absorption rate, an all-important factor when it comes to using stone in contact with soil, is good in granite. Because it is “breathable”, it allows moisture to escape in freezing cycles and remains unaffected by efflorescence.
Granite’s inherent qualities make it very versatile, cost-effective and ideal for use in many applications. Its ability to resist bending forces, flexural strength, for instance, is high, between 100 and 400 lbs per square inch. This factor is vital in establishing the permissible span of a dimension stone panel in a given thickness subjected to given loads and allows the use of granite panels in a wide range of thicknesses (30 mm to above 50mm) for many applications, spans and loads. This becomes cost-efficient as it reduces both curtain wall cost and dead load for the building frame. Besides, its exceptional dimensional ability, its tolerance to constant changes in temperature and moisture without a significant change in its size, make it ideal for use outdoors, and in many industrial applications. A 5’ granite panel changes by only 0.026” in a 100F temperature change.
Marble’s beauty is legendary, and its variety plentiful. Properties between different marbles vary, but generally, do not match those of granite. However, it is popular, in demand, and widely used on floors, as wall claddings and much more. Polished marble will scratch in high traffic areas and stains easily, so it is best to use granite here. Marble panels need to be thicker than granite to account for span and load effectively. You also need to check its properties to ensure it performs well in freeze/thaw cycles, and allow for the greater thickness of panels in this case. The right marble, however, will do your job effectively.
Marble is very cost effective in many ways. With care, it is low on maintenance. Durable (you just have to look at the immense pillars of the Parthenon to see just how true this is), marble is available from all over the world today at very competitive prices.
The beige and pale yellow hues of limestone are very trendy nowadays, but limestone’s flexural strength demands thicker panels for wall cladding, as much as 3"- 4”. This is a small sacrifice; limestone looks stunning on exteriors. Limestone in applications exposed to soil needs an alternative stone for the base course to solve the problem of its high absorption rate and low stain resistance. You will need to check the properties of the limestone you’re using to ensure it is appropriate to the outdoors.
Limestone is economical because it is very affordable, and, additionally, easily fashioned into cornices and molding pieces.
The haunting beauty of sandstone makes for very attractive cladding, flagging among other uses, as it has done for centuries. You will need 3” panels or more for effective cladding.
Slate combines its unique ability to spilled easily into thin sheets with its high flexural strength to produce ideal roofing tiles. Just check to ensure the tile you’re using will not crack in freeze/thaw conditions. Versatile, creating a rustic feel with its hues when used on outdoor walls, and as flooring or flagging. Some slates lose color outdoors, so it’s best to use the “non-fading” types.
Creating a home out of natural stone retains authenticity. It brings harmony, blending ancient feels and textures, crafting them melodiously into a home - one modern, yet in tune with its environment.