Marmomacc Meets Design: The Lightness of Stone
The ancient and the high-tech met last October at Marmomacc 2007, the 42nd International Exhibition of Stone Design and Technology in Verona, Italy. With nearly 1,500 exhibitors and some 65,000 visitors, the tradeshow featured innovative material applications—finished stone products, as well as the latest tools, abrasives, and chemicals for stone processing—alongside such classic masonry options as pietra della Lessinia, a limestone quarried since antiquity, and pietra serena, the silky grey sandstone Michelangelo chose for his Laurentian Library steps.
Promoting the role of stone in architecture today, the show included an initiative called “Marmomacc Meets Design,” which paired 10 Italian stone companies with an international roster of designers, such as Kengo Kuma with Il Casone, Aldo Cibic with Grassi Pietre, Michele de Lucchi with Piba Marmi, and Marco Piva with Santa Margherita. The theme, “The Lightness of Stone,” inspired designs ranging from entire exhibition booths to singular objects. Some architects, including Kuma, interpreted the concept of lightness through sheer thinness, while others emphasized stone’s capacity to let light shine through or its seemingly weightless buoyancy in water. Awards went to Kuma and Cibic for their respective booth designs and to de Lucchi for his marble lampshades suspended over architectural models rendered in stone.
Marmomacc also presented its 10th annual International Award for Architecture in Stone at a ceremony in Carlo Scarpa’s Castelvecchio Musuem, in Verona, honoring five architects, each for the outstanding integration of natural stone in a particular project. Paulo David, of Portugal, received the prize for his Piscinas do Atlantico; Jensen & Slodvin, of Norway, for the Mariakloster Cistercian Monastery; Beniamino Servino, of Italy, for a remodeled house in Caserta; Rafael Moneo, of Spain, for his Banco de España extension; and Antonio Jiménez Torrecillas, also of Spain, for the completion of the Muralla Nazarí. The diverse materials uses were striking. Whereas David’s project, for example, appeared carved from the native basaltic rock along the craggy cliffs of Madeira, Portugal, Jensen & Slodvin clad its monastery in Norway in thin, clipped-on shingles of slate.
The recent trend in Spain toward building prominently with stone—often in massive blocks—did not go unnoticed. An exhibition within Marmomacc, entitled The Natural Seduction of Stone: Contemporary Architecture from Spain, highlighted key projects from the past decade, including distinctive work by Carlos Ferrater and Anton Garcia Abril. Meanwhile, another exhibit, Apulia in Stone, focused on the Italian region of Apulia—its architecture, terrain, and petrous building culture.
In conjunction with the tradeshow, Marmomacc also hosted its ninth annual five-day continuing-education course for 30 architects from around the world. This AIA-approved program, which received a special citation from the Institute in 2004, examines the potential of stone in modern design through a combination of classroom lectures and field trips to quarries, stone-cutting and processing plants, the Marmomacc tradeshow floor, as well as significant architectural sites in the area. The tradeshow’s proximity to the historical city of Verona, Palladian and pre-Palladian villas, and key buildings by Carlo Scarpa enriches the course with remarkable “case studies,” seen firsthand.
Note: For this program, (which earns its participants 20 AIA/CES learning-unit hours), scholarships, covering tuition, hotels, and meals, are awarded competitively. The application deadline for the 2008 course is July 15. Marking the program’s 10th anniversary, this year, Marmomacc will also offer a “reunion” curriculum, with all new content, for returning alumni.
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