1-2024 (115): Stone

From Cornerstone to Worktop and Back Again 〉Laura Linsi, Maria Helena Luiga, Roland Reemaa

15 Clerkenwell Close 〉Close Groupwork
62 Rue Oberkampf 〉Barrault Pressacco
Plan-les-Ouates  〉Atelier Arciplein, Perraudin Architects

Moss Doesn’t Grow… 〉Helena Keskküla

Houses of Time. Carbonate rock in Estonian buildings 〉Helle Perens

Limestone in 21st-century Estonian Buildings 〉Johan Tali, Merle Karro-Kalberg, Hanna Karits, Priit Õunapuu, Siiri Vallner

Working Stone 〉Juliet Haysom, Thomas Randall-Page

On Stone’s Shoulders 〉Carl-Dag Lige
Linnahall is Sedimenting 〉Madli Kaljuste
Sedimentary Flows and Creative Geologies 〉Galaad Van Daele

Sisyphos and Portland Stone 〉Amaya Hernandez

Is Don Quijote at It Again? 〉Rein Einasto, Hubert Matve


Much can be inferred from what has been written in stone. Limestone, for instance, contains data on climate change. According to geologist Rein Einasto (p. 104), geologists can use limestone to infer that we are currently going through the greatest transition in the history of life, one in which our ways of thinking and living must change radically in order for us to survive as a species. Thinking through stone opens up a perspective that extends over hundreds of millions of years, in which geological materials are not mere static resources to be appropriated, but participants in terrestrial cycles. Architect Galaad Van Daele, who sees in this an opportunity of collaboration between mineral, organic and cultural life, writes: ‘We architects need a geological literacy.’ (p. 86)

Too expensive, too labour-intensive, too time-consuming. Building with stone seems either outdated or strictly a luxury thing, and yet, a new Stone Age is looming in West Europe—building stone’s wide availability and low levels of embodied carbon make it suitable for use in load-bearing structures of social housing, as well as experimenting with wholly new kinds of structures (p. 6). The limestone deposits of Estonia likewise contain some layers that are marble-strength and weather-proof. Could our local limestone become a widely used building material once again?

To be sure, extracting natural stone has a footprint, but after extraction, it does not require much processing to be ready for use in construction. This sets stone apart from energy-intensive concrete, clay brick and steel production. Geologist Helle Perens emphasises that instead of worrying about the environmental impact of quarrying building stone, we should worry that there are plans for the near future to extract senseless amounts of it, including very high-quality stone, only to crush it into aggregate (p. 34). We tend to be careless with stone—both with the stone still in the ground and stone in the walls of disused buildings. Architect Madli Kaljuste takes a look at one of such buildings that hides traces of 400-million-years-old life in its walls (p. 78). Thinking through stone opens up a fresh perspective on construction culture (and the lack thereof), availability of local building materials and their untapped (economic) potential, and, ultimately, on building truly long-lasting buildings.

Editor-in-chief Laura Linsi

March, 2024