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New Stone Architecture

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review - By David Dernie. Laurence King, 2003. £40

In recent years there has been a noticeable increase in both the use of stone, and the range of methods by which stones can be put together, writes Sarah Jackson.After the visual drought of the thin veneers of polished '80s cladding, and in response to digital simulations and the continual obsession with transparency, stone is fighting back.This book presents a series of case studies of new buildings that use stone in a variety of ways.And what could be more useful, when you are grappling with a detail or a junction, or just need some plain inspiration, to have a collection of 30 beautiful examples to muse over.

But this book promises more than it delivers.Alongside the case studies are short essays covering themes such as the act of building, ecology, and the use of stone in an urban or landscape setting.There is a slight uneasiness about these essays, and perhaps this was the book that Dernie really wanted to write, had he not been constrained by the demands of the case study format.

What you get are nuggets of information which, although tantalising, are not developed into a whole.

The case studies themselves are a little frustrating too.Although they show a wonderful range of buildings (predominantly, but not exclusively, European), there is an inconsistency in how they are covered, with individual cases ranging from two to eight pages.Moreover, the drawn and written information provided is thin and there are too few details.

And there is just a bit too much Eric Parry.

But criticisms aside, this is actually a rather nice book, and definitely one-up from the mass of other case study coffee-table volumes that fill the architecture shelves. It will be a useful office source book, and the answer to many a Part 2 student's prayers.For we all know why books like this are bought - the pictures will be scanned in and used on presentation boards.So much easier to look in one book, particularly when the projects shown are so consistently good, rather than searching through that pile of dog-eared magazines.

Sarah Jackson is an architect in London

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