This is the fourth post in our Super Natural Materials series – you can view the whole series here.
Building with stone: a long history
From smart townhouses to grand mansions to medieval castles to cosy worker cottages to ancient temples, building with stone stretches back to prehistoric times. It’s one of three oldest building materials along with timber and clay. Stone is frequently used in residential projects as solid stone walls, or stone cladding, or tiles and counter tops. Like other natural materials in this series, stone is beautiful, low carbon and non-toxic. But where stone really excels is in its’s intense longevity.
This post will explore some of the top benefits of building with stone, plus some examples of diverse stone projects from our work and other designers.
Benefits of building with stone
- Extremely durable and resilient to wind, fire, water, rot and bugs. It’s maintenance free – there’s no painting, oiling or replacing to do and it’s very hard to damage. The oldest human built structures still standing on Earth are made of stone. It’s so durable that perhaps ‘permanence’ is a better term.
Naturally beautiful with diverse shapes, textures and colours to choose from. Stone is readily available in most regions, with regionally distinctive stone contextualising the local vernacular and culture.
- Good insulation because of its extremely high thermal mass which is a good insulator in temperate climates. The stone slowly heats up in the day and releases its warmth in the night. Needs passive solar design to be most effective and can be too cold in cooler climates.
- Natural and non-toxic, no off-gassing of VOCs or chemicals to worry about, making for cleaner air in your home and better health and wellbeing.
- Low carbon, requiring very little processing so the production process is lower in energy and carbon than most building materials. The global availability means lower shipping emissions than more specialist materials. Stone is finite but reusable.
Examples of building with stone
Local Sussex sandstone was used for the walls of this rural eco-house, built to passivhaus standards with environmental technologies and a beautiful spacious site.
This development of 5 rural village homes, grouped together like a small farmstead, is comprised of timber and stone walled houses. This alteration adds interest to the development while both suit each other and blend into the landscape.
On this contemporary crescent-shaped riverside house, the street-side of the ground floor is clad with flint, a locally occurring kind of natural stone.
Here are just a few examples of other stone residential projects, showing the wide variety of styles that can be achieved with stone. Despite its ancient roots it can easily be used for contemporary design.
— RIBA (@RIBA) April 18, 2017
Very modern contemporary home with stone cladding on the exterior and interior walls and floors. Features an indoor private pool, with the pool room clad in cool stone.
— EnglishOakBuildings (@EnglishOak_1) April 6, 2017
Traditional rural stone cottage with a timber frame. These kind of houses are common throughout the English countryside.
— iDesignArch (@iDesignArch) April 17, 2017
The rustic stone of the walls beautifully compliments the contemporary interior design of this home for a unique look.
— Lotus Architecti (@LotusArchitecti) October 15, 2016
This traditional stone house has a contemporary glass extension, with the two styles contrasting each other effectively.
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