In recent years, there has been a reawakening in construction materials that have withstood the test of time and are environmentally-friendly. Various types of stone, including granite, marble, slate, and limestone have been embraced by architects, business owners, and homeowners to bring form, fashion, and function into homes and commercial properties.
The History of Stone Use in Architecture
For thousands of years, stone was used in the construction of buildings. Quarried stones were piled on top of one another to create piers, columns, and walls. In fact, entire cities were made of stone buildings with thatched roofs.
As more sophisticated methods were developed for joining stones together, beautiful facades, window and door sills, columns, archways, and other accents were used in buildings. By the 19th and 20th century, architects began using different materials in construction, including cast iron and concrete for framing solutions and slabs, resulting in a decrease in the use of stone.
Stonemasons who understood the structural and physical characteristics of stone were replaced by factory workers as the need for inexpensive materials was expanded. These new materials allowed for skyscrapers to be designed and developed.
After these new building materials were introduced, architects used natural stone primarily for exterior cladding. However, today, architects and builders have once again begun embracing stone in the interiors and exteriors of buildings.
Present Day Stone Use in Architecture
Stone like marble and granite grace the interior areas of a residential and commercial property. These two beautiful stones are used to add interest, form, and functionality in kitchens and bathrooms.
Slate and other stones are often used to create beautiful, long-lasting floors and accent walls throughout the interior spaces of buildings.
Although the physical characteristics of stone remain the same, stone quarried from different areas may have different color variations.
Architectural designers must understand the different color variations and how they affect the overall design of a residential or commercial property. Each type of stone offers distinct advantages and disadvantages that must be considered during the design process. For example, marble offers beautiful veining; however, the areas around the veins may be weaker.
Granite is extremely durable; however, it is exceptionally heavy and difficult to install.
No matter the type of natural stone used, routine maintenance is required.
When choosing the type of stone to be used, the durability, appearance, workability, strength, and porosity must be considered. High moisture areas like kitchens and bathrooms require stones that can withstand high humidity levels i.e. - granite, marble, and sandstone.
Natural stone, including slate and granite, is often used in high traffic areas. These areas typically used tumbled stone; however, polished stone can be used. Exterior applications of natural stone include cladding, driveway installations, columns, and chimneys.
Approaches must be taken to prevent damage in exterior applications. Water damage, biological growth, and physical decay can occur if strategies are not used to protect against weathering.
For centuries, architects and builders have relied on natural stone to create architectural masterpieces. These stone buildings have withstood the test of time.
Today's architect understands that commercial and residential owners desire building materials that are environmentally friendly, durable, and long-lasting. This makes stone a “solid” choice.
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