House made of solid stone in Lyon
by Perraudin Architecture

| 15 comments
 

French studio Perraudin Architecture has constructed a family house out of solid stone, claiming the material is "cheaper and faster" to build with than concrete.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture

Architect Marco Lammers said sandstone limestone had been chosen for economic reasons. "Stone itself is not an expensive resource,"  he said. "Its manufacturing is. Therefore, the greater its mass, the lower its price and the greater its qualities."

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture

The house is located in Croix Rousse in Lyon - a dense former silk-weaving district - and is positioned in a small backland plot behind an art gallery.

Perraudin Architecture designed the building to match the typical local architecture, which features solid stone walls and windows large enough to fit silk looms through.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture

"Massive stone – when used with intelligence – allows to build cheaper and faster than ‘classical’ construction methods like [...] concrete," the architects claim.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture

Lammers told Dezeen that using stone for load-bearing construction is far more efficient than applying it as a cladding material and creates energy-efficient buildings without high price tags.

"When used constructively in its raw massive form, stone is load-bearing, has great qualities of thermal mass, absorbs and releases surplus humidity, does not degrade and thus literally makes timeless architecture," he said.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture

"Arguably, the least intelligent use of stone thinkable is to cut it in thin slices and to hang it decoratively on structural walls," he added.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture

The two-storey residence has an L-shaped plan that wraps around a small garden and swimming pool. Both floors feature floor-to-ceiling windows, and the stone walls are left exposed on the inside as well as the outside.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture

Ground floor spaces are arranged in a sequence where large family rooms are broken up by utility areas such as bathrooms and closets. These smaller spaces sit within compact stone volumes that support the flat roof overhead.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture

The architect added: "As stone is a subtractive rather than additive material, the domestic landscape architecture has a vocabulary of rifts, carvings, cracks and recesses."

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture

Here's more information from Perraudin Architecture:


Massive stone house, Lyon - Croix Rousse, France

This single family house finds itself in the hearth of Croix-Rousse, one of the densest neighbourhoods of Europe. The quarter is heavily marked by its thousands of former home-workshops of the "canuts" - the silk weavers of the 19th century Lyonnais silk manufacturing.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture

An urban tissue of high, massive stone buildings with large window openings carrying heavy oak floor structures that allow for the high open spaces needed for the Jacquard looms that were used for weaving the silk tissue.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture
Axonometric diagram

Located in a hearth of a housing block at the back of the art gallery it extends, the possibilities to build are strictly limited by complex urban regulations. Therefore, the envelope of the house follows exactly the authorised maximum volume, with its spaces 'carved out' of this given envelope.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture
Exploded axonometric diagram

Within this rigid shell, the spaces are positioned one after the other forming a continuous scenic route. Due to the limited depth of the maximum envelope, the layout is organised as alternating service and served spaces, with the service-spaces (bathroom, storage, stairs, toilets…) forming massive blocks of stone that support the roof. With its reinforced contrast between mass and emptiness, between lightness and darkness, with its pierced and recessing mass, the playful and liberated inner world contrasts strongly with the outer world blocked in regulation.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture
Axonometric diagram of stone structure

Being closer to physical geography than to architecture, the service blocks arrange themselves in a route connecting and separating one living space from another. As stone is a subtractive rather than additive material, the "domestic landscape architecture" has a vocabulary of rifts, carvings, cracks and recesses.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture
Isometric detail

The service blocks define by contrast the living voids, orienting them towards the small garden they surround. The freshness generated by the basin completes this architectural geography.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture
Ground floor plan

Structurally, all floors are supported by the service blocks, with each block uniquely built up out of massive - structural - stone. The large blocks of dimension stone making up its masonry have been sculpted and assembled block by block after being cut precisely in the quarry. Delivered element by element, they were quickly mounted as if it were blocks in a toy building game.

Stone house in Lyon's silk-weaving district by Perraudin Architecture
First floor plan

About Perraudin Architecte and the use of massive stone as primary construction material

Perraudin Architecture is an office with a long history in forefront sustainable architecture – with as most notable example the Akademie Mont Cenis (Herne, Germany, 1999, awarded with the Holzbaupreis and the European Solar Prize, Prize for Solar Building and of the first large energy-neutral buildings).

Since 1998 the office rediscovered massive, structural stone as contemporary building material, starting to use a standardised module of large blocks of 2,00 x 1,00 x 0,50 meter of massive stone – or half of the unit size of stone as extracted directly from a quarry – as primary (structural) building material. Since, the office has proved the potential of massive stone as an elegant, sustainable, economical, and widely available local material in numerous of its buildings.

Most notable is the construction of 20 units of social housing in Cornebarrieu (project nominated for the European Union Prize for Contemporary Architecture Mies van der Rohe Award 2013, the Equerre d’Argent 2011, and winner of the Prix Développement Durable - Concours d’architecture Pierre Naturelle 2011). It proves massive stone – when used with intelligence – allows to build cheaper and faster than ‘classical’ construction methods like the use of armed concrete, all the while using very limited energy to extract and place (dry construction!) and having great tectonic and tactile qualities.

As each building we had built so far was based on the rather strict geometric base, this massive stone house in Lyon was the first project to allow us to demonstrate the extreme flexibility of stone, exploiting to the maximum its plastic qualities.

  • pipo

    Looks great for the warmer climates at least. But I think sandstone must be a lot softer than concrete, I imagine you could easily carve in the wall with your car key?

  • aaronbbrown

    Hard to believe any stone can be cheaper to build with than concrete, anywhere in the world. What, is it next-door to a quarry? Using large heavy blocks most certainly requires specialised equipment that is expensive to either buy or rent.

    Nobody builds for permanency anymore when it comes to single-family habitations, the average life expectancy of a home created today is at best 40 years. Shame to see something that could last 1000 years torn down after 25.

    In the city of Quincy Illinois, near where my family is from, there are many stone houses, built by wealthy families after the turn of the last century. They are amazing and they are built to last.

  • opip

    I heard you can easily carve into wood with your car key too.

    • pipo

      Good luck trying that with bull oak.

  • Marco Lammers

    The building is in fact in limestone, not sandstone. Limestone is the type of stone very widely used in architecture (including, for example, in the pyramids of Giza). Hard to imagine as it might be – coming from a brick country – virtually all pre-industrial buildings in cities like Lyon, Bordeaux or Paris are built using large blocks of stone, though this fact is often hidden by a layer of plaster. As one can imagine, it surely wasn’t so widely used for being either expensive or being complicated to work with.

    In the end, all ingredients of concrete are mined as well, and often moved over much larger distances than the distance to the closest quarry. Let’s be honest, concrete is in essence decomposed stone to be recomposed on site, which means one is wasting a lot of energy and resources using it when there are simply sources of ready-to-use stone nearby.

    @aaron : The short life expectancy of buildings is a result rather than the reason of nobody building for permanency anymore. If not, the stone houses in Quincy would have been lost a long time ago, wouldn’t they? All those stone buildings in Lyon or Paris still stand and their life expectancy seems to be extended endlessly. Why bother to build rubbish? We have to stop pretending that our possibilities have degreased, not advanced in the last two centuries. If anything, labour has become more expensive and therefore simplicity and massive, ready to use materials have become more and more economically valuable. Stone is still as endlessly available as it ever was. If we’re serious about sustainability, we – as architects – have a responsibility to build buildings that last a 1000 years.

  • asolitarywave

    Interesting to hear that the (lime)stone acts like a lime plaster – absorbing and releasing moisture. And there is certainly an argument to be made about the use of stone for both structural and decorative purposes. I’m left with two questions: if the stone is exposed on both the inside and the outside, is the property insulated, or does it rely on the thermal mass of the stone itself retaining the heat you put in? If so, good luck getting it warm in a cold snap!
    Secondly, I don’t think you can make the argument about it being cheaper to use than ‘traditional’ methods without giving us some numbers.

    • Romain_M

      You said it yourself, the thermal mass of the stone blocks regulates the temperature of the building. From experience I can attest to the fact that stone block buildings tend to mitigate strong changes in outside temperature, essentially stabilising the indoor temperature. You then have the illusion of a cool space during the summer months or a warmer interior during the winter months.

  • Concerned Citizen

    This article is about limestone, not sandstone.

    • pipo

      Makes a lot more sense now that it has been corrected.

  • Concerned Citizen

    I would like the author to explain how an l-shape can wrap around anything.

  • http://www.dezeen.com/ Dezeen Magazine

    Hi guys,
    The article did originally say sandstone, which was an error on our part that has now been corrected. Sorry for the confusion! Ashleigh/Dezeen

  • Steeevyo

    I fully agree and I am happy for experiments like the building above, but in the end somebody has to pick up the tab. That’s a reality too.

  • Michael

    “Arguably, the least intelligent use of stone thinkable is to cut it in thin slices and to hang it decoratively on structural walls,” said the architect. Er… does the isometric detail not show insulation to the external walls which is then clad internally with a thin skin of stone?
    Nice idea though. Quite immersive.

  • Romain_M

    It could be a reference to traditional 19th century planning: a main building or “corps de logis” with a double-wing (U-shape) or a single-wing (L-shape) wrapped around a courtyard meant to maximise sunlight and ventilation. The keystone shaped volumes are also a reference to 19th century urban-planning. Essentially, the architects built a city within a city. I hope the picture I have linked properly illustrates my comment : http://www.realestate.bnpparibas.fr/img/EMFR.9013351.EMFR.B9013351.59392_12013571.jpg

  • Albert

    That seems to be highly interesting. Never imagined that a house carved out of stone would yield so many benefits. Apart from being cost-effective, it can imbibe all the vital elements of safety and security. That deserves an applaud.