The Artificial Stone Building is a monolithic housing tower with an entirely closed façade. Shaped like an impenetrable rock surface, the architecture is introvert to the point of implosion, a building that redefines the meaning of a “rough-hewn” surface.
If one of the symbols of ancient architecture is the cave dwelling, then this is the cave dwelling cut out of the mountain and transported away only to be turned inside out. It could for instance be viewed as an inverted and displaced version of some of the more than 1,500 known rock-cut structures in India (created 2,300-800 years ago) – the caves at legendary locations such as Ellora (Maharashtra), Bhaja, or Kanheri.
Somehow reminiscent of the famous monolithic rock-cut churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia (probably built in the 12th and 13th centuries), this standing stone – in all the senses of the word save for the technical – appears impervious, unattackable, inaccessible. It is a corrective to Buckminster Fuller’s famous rethorical question about a building’s weight: an almost impossibly heavy-looking structure. Internally, the building is opened up to the sun and air to provide an antidote to its fortified exterior, producing a highly contrasting relationship between solid and void.
Various kinds of synthetic stone products have been in use from the 18th century onwards. From Lithodipyra (Coade stone, a ceramic created by Eleanor Coade) via Frederick Ransome’s Patent Siliceous Stone (made from sand and powdered flint in an alkaline solution) to today’s Jesmonite (a composite material consisting of a gypsum-based material in an acrylic resin), different cast stone products have made it possible to achieve cheaper and more uniform – or, in the case of the present project, controllable – elements that are effectively non porous and able to resist the corroding influence of the environment.