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Professor of architecture Christoph Mäckler: „With natural stone a building is a building and not merely some unholy mess“

Prof. Christoph Mäckler at his Stone+tec 2018 presentation. Photo: Stone+tec

Talk at the Stone+tec Trade Fair on occasion of the German Natural Stone Awards presentation

Seldom has such an entertaining and inspiring presentation been heard on the subject of natural stone as a building material held by Prof. Christoph Mäckler at the German Natural Stone 2018 Awards. Devoid of the usual adulation of the aledgedly most ancient of building materials or that it defies adversity with its durability and resilience, Mäckler instead spread the gamut of what an architect can do with the material in minute and fond detail.

The general direction was „sustainable building“ – with which he means that architects and developers both seek quality but also that the building should express quality by its mere appearance.

With this provision in mind, Mäckler spoke of natural stone of a certain minimal thickness „gives a building an allure of strength“: „The beholder immediately gains the impression of a building … and not of some unholy mess.“

Of the many possibilities which stone offers the architect, it all comes down to this: „Natural stone is like a pair of trousers – it all depends what one does with it.“

Details of the façade at Frankfurt/Main’s Historical Museum. Photo: Roland Halbe

Mäckler is a proponent of carefully worked surfaces. The usual high-gloss polished faces are a nightmare to him. He showed some pictures of antique sculptures quoting LeCorbusier, who once said that „the eye brushes over surfaces feeling the shapes“.

Mäckler hopes for more bas-relief on the surface of stone. „Today’s technology allows carving surfaces by machine at low cost“, speaking of a new business opportunity for the branch.

A façade should be chock full of decorative stone elements. And a stone plinth „makes a façade look neat and tidy“.

An example of a building with plinth and cornerstones is Stetson Hall at the Williams College Campus, Massachusetts. Photo: Peter Aaron/OTTO

Corners and edges made with stone would also add an orderly touch.

„Details“, „Strength“ and „Order“ were the key concepts in his presentation and natural stone offers unlimited opportunities in every aspect, according to Mäckler.

He referred to the architecture of the New Frankfurt Heritage City Center, for which he acted as the chairman of the Design Committee. He praised the work of some young architects who submitted promising drafts: „I am confident that architecture is moving forward and developing.“

In Mäckler’s view, the relationship of a building to its surroundings is of foremost importance. Natural stone bears its heritage within. Glass, on the other hand, has no relation to its provenance. Stone allows the creation of an „Ensemble“, as can be admired in many a city and town. „Stone walls are a joy to look at even after hundreds of years, even if their original function was not what it is today“.

Aside from the tips and bits of advice for the future of architects, he also had a scolding in stock for the natural stone branch: „You must do more for your material“, he exhorted, and demanded more public relations work.

Christoph Mäckler Architekten

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(30.08.2018, USA: 08.30.2018)