The eternal favourite
In more ways than one, stone is among the most complete and eco-friendly construction materials
There are millions of buildings all over the world built completely with stone, right from foundation and walls to floors, stairs, columns, beams, roofs and parapets. But for re-sizing, constructed stone is the same as what nature has provided us, with no processing at all, unlike mud and wood which get partially altered by us.
Staying cool in summer and warmer in winter, it responds to local climate very meaningfully. After the life of the building, stone returns to earth equally easily.
India is a fortunate country, in having abundant supply of stone as a possible building material, both in variety and quantity. Eastern Maharashtra may be rich in basalt, Rajasthan is full of marble, while Kerala has extensive laterite deposits.
The pink sand stone of Jaipur region is synonymous with the pink city itself. Local inhabitants have discovered what the nature has in store for them and accordingly, each region has historically developed the art of building with stone.
Rocks and boulders
Bangalore region sits on the Deccan plateau, with both sheet rock and boulders. As such, granite size stones, boulders, slabs, hard aggregates and other variants are commonly available here.
Depletion of natural reserves is a major cause of concern today, with excess stone quarrying denuding the large rocky countryside. As such, while we may credit stone as a complete eco solution, it will have to be used judiciously in future.
There are better alternatives for columns, beams and roofs, where we can spare stone, leaving it mainly for foundations and walls. We often come across walls with both side stone left exposed with thickness up to 15 inches, while stone composite walls with 12” thickness are more popular. Much thinner walls at only 8” is possible with slabs, but they cost twice the regular ones due to cutting and dressing.
The criteria of cost resulted in many houses with random rubble walls, an 18” thick wall with irregular stones and no straight jointing. They appear very natural, however demand an experienced mason to build them and waterproof the joints.
What most of us see as stone wall, in recent times, could actually be normal brick wall finished with a large slab or small cut stone pieces, known as cladding. It ensures speed and even surface, can be applied for lintel or RCC edges to hide the concrete look and create different patterns.
Cost is a major concern here, also the aesthetics. Such walls often lack the real stone look, due to the slab face and tend to appear decorative.
Methods of building with stone could be different, but the basic precautions to be taken are similar. Learning about these principles itself can be an exciting journey into architecture!