Despite being one of the most sustainable building materials since ancient times natural stone is increasingly overlooked by the construction industry in favour of reinforced concrete, glass and steel. Infamously, King Charles III once branded plans for such an extension to the National Gallery as a monstrous carbuncle.
While there is certainly room for all styles of architecture and all types of construction materials, investment in the inventive and experimental is not what the latest exhibition at London’s Design Museum promotes. Instead it is going back to building’s roots to offer us a chance to ‘discover how architects are reimagining natural stone, wood and straw to design homes fit for the future’.
Stone is not only an abundant and energy efficient material, it’s also very strong, up to three times stronger than concrete… and, (as those three little piggies found in the tale of building a safe haven from the destructive huffs and puffs of a hungry wolf), many more times stronger than straw and wood.
That said, used together, stone wood and straw make for beautiful, breathable, comfortable and energy efficient living spaces. Definitely not carbuncles!
What’s more, if a stone house is eventually torn down, the material can be infinitely reclaimed, repurposed or remade into any number of stone products. Even if it does end up in landfill, it is simply going back from whence it came, no toxins, no pollution, no decomposition. Just back into the earth it was quarried from.
The Design Museum insists there is a need to ‘radically rethink the materials we use to build our towns and cities’ and states that stone, wood and straw are ‘three ancient materials that are vital for a low-carbon future’.
We couldn’t agree more.