The impending depletion of raw materials, first and foremost of sand, an essential component of concrete, has compelled us to rethink much of how we construct contemporary housing in the Ile-de-France. In view of the search for more economical, innovative materials and more virtuous, imported technologies, the exhibition and research project “Stone” considers Paris’ primary raw material: its chalky ground and history of limestone.
Our changing climate is forcing us to reduce the carbon footprint of our buildings, and environmental criteria must inform all decisions that the real estate industry makes. Today, only stone construction provides a proven, local, natural, and ultimately justifiable solution. The energy savings that come with its use begin with the proximity of its deposits. In fact, it only takes a few cuts to transform rock into a usable material, and just a few hours to transport it from quarry to worksite. This indigenous material also maintains and reinforces local competencies and savoir-faire. A study of the dozen quarries in the Paris basin that still cut limestone for buildings reveals the availability of this resource and industrial tool, which can be mobilized in no time.
Several pioneering architects, builders, and developers in the Île-de-France have reintegrated stone in their construction processes. Their recently completed projects explore yesterday’s potential and create a language for tomorrow. They mix materials and techniques to reinvent our modes of habitation. Others have increasingly begun to envision a vernacular architecture of the near future that is taller, more open, and more generous. The inventiveness of their constructions does not fully supplant the use of corrupted materials, but it does generate a comprehensive industry of available bio-sourced materials for building the Metropolis.
Stone is a symbol of ownership and perpetuity. The exhibition “Stone: the Revelation of a Resource and the Exploration of a Material”, curated by the Pavillon de l’Arsenal in conjunction with the architecture firm of Barrault Pressacco, intends to demonstrate the virtuous nature of stone in support of the goal of sustainably building 70,000 housing units per year for Grand Paris.