The city of Jericho is home to a unique piece of carefully constructed design that combines ancient building materials with digital fabrication. Stone Matters, by AAU ANASTAS and Laboratoire GSA, is a giant, lattice-like stone arch built as the first experimental module of the upcoming el-Atlal artists and writers residency in the Palestinian city.
According to the design team, the project was inspired by the region’s misuse of stone as a structural material. Primarily used as cladding in modern-day construction, stone — more specifically, stone stereotomy — needs to be revived as an optional construction technique and structural material.
Stone stereotomy, the process of cutting stones, can be seamlessly achieved using computational simulation and fabrication techniques. AAU ANASTAS’s research department, SCALES and GSA ENSA Paris-Malaquais, are leading the development of such stone construction practices.
With Stone Matters, the team was able to construct an undeniably intricate and striking piece of design. The project covers a surface area of 60 square meters [646 square feet] and spans 7 meters wide with a constant depth of 12 centimeters. Three hundred interlocking and mutually supported stones make up the massive structure.
Once computed to fit one another, the polystyrene blocks used to build the arch were roughly cut in a factory and transported to another facility to undergo a robotic carving process. Detailed images reveal the precision behind putting together such a project.
The result of the Stone Matters experiment is a dramatic construction that features a grid-like framework of stunning white stone. It filters a brilliant pattern of light by day while also serving as a shaded pavilion underneath the hot Middle Eastern sun. By night, Stone Matters glows with a single solitary light that enhances the scene.
But Stone Matters is more than a beautiful structure. Its construction unveils a modern stone construction technique that can be integrated into a local and global architectural language. According to AAU ANASTAS, it’s a major step for contemporary masonry.
“Through the understanding of our historical cities, the research tries to link techniques of constructions to urban morphologies. It puts a nonhierarchical hypothetical link between the scale of stereotomy and the scale of the urban fabric. In that context, the idea is to suggest new urban morphologies linked to the scientific use of largely available materials in Palestine.”
Images via AAU ANASTAS