5 October 2021

The Time Things Went Awry: Following Stone in Contemporary Architecture

ENSA Paris-Malaquais

Respondent: Adam Przywara (The University of Manchester)

Research seldom goes to plan and that is not a bad thing. My intervention tells of one such time.

Upon arrival in Mallorca last autumn, I learned from the architects hosting me that the project I had intended to study during my two-month stay would, after all, be built in timber from the Iberian peninsula rather than the local marès stone repopularised by Jørn Utzon in the 1970s. The use of stone on the project being the object of my in situ research, I was somewhat taken aback. As I started to enquire about the reasons for the material change however, my disappointment subsided; this apparent mishap was opening doors to conversations, encounters and visits that I had not anticipated.

The Balearic island is one of the three sites of my doctoral research into what stone — in its load-bearing capacity — does to architectural production today. It comes in light of the growing, though largely uncritical, infatuation with natural building materials. By giving attention to the habits, doubts and emotions of actors diversely involved in ongoing projects, the thesis aims to situate stone within a framework of social relations and practices. In doing so, new insights might be gleaned into what is both appealing and problematic about working with the age-old material anew.

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