Marble pavilion: Vila Vicosa Portugal

Research output: Non-textual outputArtefact


Collaberative Design and construction of a non-reinforced marble pavilio, by Cultural Geometries. Aims: The design aimed to test marble’s contemporary relevance to architecture by testing at 1:1 a) marble as primary architectural structure, b) the feasibility of reusing waste marble c) the feasibility of building method & instruction of building method. Methodology: Creativity: stimulate remote associations & lateral thinking through ‘out of the ordinary’ environments and ‘on the spot’ problem solving. (K.Sawer “Creativity & Development”,2003) Participation: Engage communities, experts & governing authorities (J. Gehl, “Human Scale” 2012) Time: Projects builds on from previous through continuity and reflection. (S.Egashira, Koshirakura 1996) This project was an experiment. We had no precedent for laminating natural stone. We studied references like Gustavino ‘tile arch system’ patented in 1885, Anthony Gaudi’s chain models 1889 and more recently the ceramic tile work of work of Block Research Group ETH (and others) to give us theoretical certainty. We also compared fabric folds in marble sculptures (e.g. Veiled Christ). Everything was cross-referenced with the marble factory experience and our own 1:1 testing. The project was achieved through 3 design workshops, 4 building trips within and outside semesters. Findings: We planned 3 layers of laminate and designed 3 tile patterns. When working 1:1 we judged 2 layers would suffice (less material). We designed the tile to fit a variety of marble waste, machinery and design typology. Other factors were handling weight and structural integrity. The 10x10x1cm was quick to cut for the factory. It took them 2 days to cut 10,000 tiles involving 4 different people. We discovered the material had retained some translucency, visible at night when lit up from inside (to be explored in future work). Factors influencing building accuracy were skills, guide work, weather and construction time (four trips). Being able to discuss and ‘sketch’ 1:1 proved very useful as we could make decisions based on actual experience in relation to design. Outcomes: The pavilion was completed successfully and is weathering well. The 2-3cm thick non re-enforced laminated structure is thin for masonry construction. The building method could well mean that marble has a structural future in architecture. We also believe this experiment is transferable to other natural stone types. The feasibility of using waste marble has been proven and was far more efficient than we had anticipated. The 3rd ambition was harder to achieve. Building accuracy and time of construction need to improve. We suggest improved guide work design, construction training and working with the same construction team though build period. Impact: The impact of the project is primarily regional but has global relevance in dealing with stone waste and innovation in architecture. The pavilion’s primary purpose is as an educational tool within the quarry and factory. The pavilion is also used educationally externally (American Architects visited June 2016). The engineering firm BuroHapold is now a research collaborator. A reflective exhibition was part of London Festival of Architecture 2016. The work is also listed under AJ’s small projects. A film of the project is available on You Tube along side a film about the marble from quarry and through factory to tile. Dates: Completed june 2016 Participating Organisations: OBU, SoAD, Freehaus Design, CG Architecture, Solubema, Etma. Project Leaders: C. Godiksen, M. Brown & M. Howe Tutor Names / Team: M. Brown, C. Godiksen, J. Hagos, M. Howe, T.Yudin Team: see film credits &
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016
Eventother - Etma, Vila Vicosa, Portugal, 1 June 2016
Duration: 1 Jun 2016 → …


Dive into the research topics of 'Marble pavilion: Vila Vicosa Portugal'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this