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Architecture: Ideas for walls, facades and ground surfaces (3)

(March 2011) On a whole they are too large for today’s nuclear families and yet they offer too little space – as was the impression of homeowners of a farmhouse in the town of Charrat near the Sea of Geneva. Geneva-based architects Clavienrossier found an unconventional solution: the former 3 story building kept only its ground floor and a portion of the living quarters above.

In turn, a new, modern story was added on top with two generous rooms and picture windows opening up to a view of the breath-taking Alps.

With regard to material the former farmhouse is also a mix old and new. Only the new construction is made of modern material, i.e. concrete. The quarry stone exterior walling, formerly concealed under a thick layer of grout, has been laid open.

Concrete does not require the massive thickness of stone walls. The architects put this attribute to good use and set the windows so far back that even the layperson must take notice of the static and dark and light colour effects to emphasize the difference in strength, lending an added dimension. Colour was adapted to mime natural stone.

Clavienrossier Architects

Photos: Roger Frei

Right in the middle of Berlin yet eerie and uncannily sinister: but a few steps from the Potsdamer Platz lay the ruins of the Nazi torture chambers of the Third Reich’s deeds of darkness. Recently the location opened the new museum („Topographie des Terrors” („Topographie of Terror“), an inconspicuous one-story building on a grey quarry stone plot formerly housing the headquarters of the Gestapo and the SS, the former secret police. Two sides of the buildings are glass fronts giving it a neutral appearance. The flooring, however, leaves no room for doubt as to the location. After a while phillite veins in the slate under foot begin to mime strokes of a pen used to sign the death warrants of millions of innocent lives during this darkest era of German history. The surface of the Argentinean Riverstone is Brushed Antique.

The prize-winning design was by the architect Ursula Wilms of Heinle, Wischer and Partner. Stone was provided by the SSQ Group of London.

Topographie des Terrors

More on the organization of the SS and the deeds of darkness of the Third Reich’s concentration camps in „The SS-State – The System of the German Concentration Camp“ by Eugen Kogon.

Photos: SSQ Group

Should you, dear reader, not yet have had the pleasure of visiting London’s prestigious Savoy Hotel, now is the time to catch up on lost time. In the course of refurbishment over the last three year at a cost of 220 million Pounds Sterling, this the most noble home away from home to prominent visitors is enjoying extensive stone masonry work worth taking a look at. Mega Marble of London provided the stone and carried out the work during the course of which the Strand lobby’s checkerboard flooring was renewed in white Carrara marble and black Nero Marquina. That may sound ordinary but the challenge lay in straightening the lines optically. To this end, Mega Marble had to hand-cut each slab individually. The 4m curve of the Thames lounge is a highlight: to mount the heavy-weight slabs exactly on the brick wall special fixings were needed conceived and developed precisely for this implementation. The curved architrave at the entrance to the wardrobe area is also worth mentioning, chiselled from a single block; the Beaufort Bar what with its extravagant lighting, is made of Madagascar labradorite; wall cladding in the Riverside restaurant is clad in Star Galaxy granite and for the flooring Crema Marfil marble adds an extra touch of warmth.

Mega Marble

Photos: Mega Marble

An example of unusual implementation of stone can be seen on the facade of Delft’s University of Technology where Jeanne Dekkers Architektuur printed translucent slices of stone on the glass front of the Geotechnical building complex. This has a twofold effect: first, it brings the science from the inside out in plain view, but it also shields the inside from some of the sunlight without blocking the view. The bi-coloured grid is only recognizable as a single picture from some distance.

Jeanne Dekkers Architectuur

Photos: Daria Scagliola, Stein Brakkee