The Swedish Natural Stone Prize is awarded once a year to projects that highlight the special properties of natural stone and its native varieties: special architecture, sustainability in construction, and innovation in the use of the material. There are no monetary prizes, but the architects and builders are allowed to use the award for marketing purposes for one year. In addition, the highly active, albeit small, association publicizes the awards.
The first prize went to a project that is quite extraordinary in terms of its dimensions: it is a villa on a lake in western Sweden, although we do not want to say any more about the location here as the client wanted anonymity. After all, the stone villa is designed in such a way that it would certainly attract visitors and uninvited guests, and perhaps in a few tens of thousands of years, it will have archaeologists wondering what happened there a long time ago: because the core of the house is the kitchen, and in it the massive block of the kitchen island, originally weighing 34 tons, polished only on the surface and raw on the sides. The matching bench weighs nine tons and measures 475 x 120 x 92 cm.
The client had seen something similar in a gourmet and wellness hotel in South Tyrol and found the architects Andersson & Keller and the stone company Hallindens Granit in Sweden. The stone for the monster in Sweden is Tossen Grå Bohu granite. Transporting the 34-tonne piece over forest paths alone was a project in the style of an exotic expedition. The next step was to move the machines to the site by the lake, and at the very end the house was actually built around the block in the kitchen.
The second defining material in the kitchen is brass – the metal and stone should age gracefully and develop a patina, giving the residents of the summer residence and their guests an atmosphere of serenity and longevity, according to a description.
The jury invited three other projects to the final round, from which the winner was selected.
One of these is Villa Omberg, whose construction was not lacking in the unusual. The client and his wife also had the dream of a secluded stone home, and then they came across a plot of land where everything fell into place: it was on the edge of an active Borghamn limestone quarry, and the client, it should be noted, had been active in various roles in the Swedish stone sector.
The rest in a nutshell: he created a model of the new building using limestone samples, his wife was also on fire, and so the shell was soon built with lightweight concrete walls to which the stone slabs were attached as cladding.
Of course, the client spent every minute on the building site: he spent an entire winter working on the edges of the slabs with a hammer and chisel or used an angle grinder to add further details. The fossils in the stone became a special treasure for him: “I never get tired of looking at the façade. You are constantly discovering a new fossil that you have never seen before,“the association quotes him in the magazine “Sten” (Stone)
Inside the house, the walls and floors are clad in other types of hemic stone. “I used a lot of my vacation and free time to work on the house,“ the client says. And: “Now we’re going to build a greenhouse with a stone base in the garden.“ The wife is also involved.
Another project from the final round was the redesign of Hertig-Johans-Platz in the town of Skövde, where a stone floor consisting of approx. 1,000 m² of granite slabs, 80 m of block steps and approx. 600 m² of cobblestones was laid. The square and the street are a fine example of how a smaller municipality with a limited budget, but high ambitions can go a long way with an intelligent use of natural stone. The architects from Land Arkitekter developed the design.
A wide carpet of recycled small and large street stones frames the floor with the slabs, reinforcing the image of the square as a kind of general trading area.
“We would have preferred to work with Swedish stone throughout the project, but the budget didn’t allow for this. Instead, we arrived early on at a combination of five different granites, three Swedish Bohus type and two Portuguese. In practice, we also reused all the small and large street stones on the site,“ says Anders Kling, architect in charge at Land Arkitektur.
Hertig Johans Torg used to be covered with cobblestones, which the municipality now stores in a warehouse for later reuse.
Next to the square is the Sankta Helena church with stylized cranes in the paving. We described the project:
The fourth project in the final round is the 3D model of the national park in Tyresta, south of Stockholm. It is now regarded as a pioneering project for such information points. We described the project:
Sveriges Stenindustriförbund (Swedish)
(05.02.2024, USA: 02.05.2024)