Building towers with stone could be the future, architects say

A 30-story tower design is cheaper and greener than concrete and steel

TRD WEEKEND EDITION /
Mar.March 14, 2020 12:00 PM
Groupwork’s Amin Taha and Webb Yates’ Steve Webb (Credit: Groupwork, The Golden Sun project)

Groupwork’s Amin Taha and Webb Yates’ Steve Webb (Credit: Groupwork, The Golden Sun project)

A group of architects wants to bring their practice back to the stone age.

Groupwork and structural engineering firm Webb Yates collaboratively designed a 30-story office tower built of stone they say could be cheaper and more sustainable than a similar tower built with steel or concrete, according to Dezeen.

The project was an investigation of how tall one could build with stone and to estimate costs. It’s included in an exhibit at London’s Building Centre, an architecture and design gallery.

The “New Stone Age” exhibit was curated by Webb Yates’ Steve Webb, Groupwork’s Amin Taha and Alex Cotterill, and stonemason Pierre Bidaud. It’s meant to display the material’s potential.

“Stone is versatile, has strength, longevity, is plentiful, cheap and, with zero embodied carbon, well placed for a renaissance,” Taha said.
The 30-story tower is based on Groupwork’s 15 Clerkenwell Close, a six-story tower in London built of limestone. The tower has a similar exoskeleton, but is built instead of basalt after testing that against limestone and granite.

The basalt itself has zero carbon footprint, according to the tower’s designers. Sustainability consultants Eight Associates, which also worked on the tower, said embodied CO2 could be reduced by 95 percent if stone was quarried in the same country as the building.
Otherwise, stone would still have 60 to 80 percent less embodied carbon than steel and concrete, respectively. Embodied carbon is the total greenhouse gas emissions of the material from quarrying to disposal.

Using cross-laminated timber — a material that Alphabet is exploring — for the floors could further reduce embodied carbon, the designers found. [Dezeen] – Dennis Lynch


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