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Institute for Stone

Part 2 Project 2007
Sheldon Brown
University of Nottingham | UK
‘Can learning ever make up for the shortfall of immediate experience?’
Helen Castle.

There is a growing schism between building design processes and an understanding of construction materials. Modern technologies are replacing the requirement for skill and the intrinsic understanding of materials and their characteristic qualities are in danger of being lost. This thesis explores these issues via the construction of an Institute of Masonry that combines scientific research into stone with direct experience of using the materials. The symbiosis facilitated by the institute emphasises an understanding of materials that only arises from direct engagement as epitomised by craft traditions.

Sheldon Brown

This thesis project is not self-consciously trendy or fashionable and it eschews the territory often occupied by students in architectural education in favour of serious design research into a specific material – stone. Brown has carefully researched the tectonic and spatial potential of stone and combined this with a sensitive but powerful intervention in a post-industrial landscape. In developing the brief for the Institute he undertook work experience as an apprentice stonemason with the National Trust at Hardwick Hall. He views the role of an architect to be a fellow artisan, and in the language of Herbert Read – ‘a constructor’.

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