Producing the Goods 6

Building Materials and Landscape Products : Casebooks

What is the colour and texture of your place?

With the widespread closure of small quarries, local stone for repairing buildings or building anew is difficult or impossible to source. Small quarries that meet local needs are vital for sustaining local distinctiveness.

"As individual types of building stone often have very distinctive characteristics they cannot be easily matched by stone from alternative sources. Maintaining a supply of local stone is, therefore, important in maintaining local vernacular styles of architecture."
Building and roofing stone, ODPM & BGS, 2005

But there is more to it than this. Buildings made from locally quarried stone and brick made from local clay not only maintains the possibility of a continuation of vernacular buildings and styles, they support local jobs, but keeps vernacular methods and knowledge active and local words in use, local lichens and moss find it easier to colonise and help the buildings bed in more quickly. New buildings are increasingly seeking out local materials for their intrinsic energy conservation qualities as well as keeping down the material miles travelled. Common Ground is for the maintenance or re-opening of small quarries for local use. We should feel and see the full impact we have when we build.

So many stone and brick buildings are being whitewashed and plastered these days either to help waterproofing or because it is fashionable. Yet by hiding the local stone or brick, the distinctiveness of the buildings and the integrity of town or village is being undermined. What can be done to keep us revealing the geology?

Structures made from cob or earth are not only distinctive but must be the most ecological form of building since the earth is dug very close to where the structure is built, and is also excellent for absorbing the heat of the sun and retaining heat. Most earth buildings are thatched since they do not have the structural strength to carry a heavy roof.

See the BUILDING SITE for a pathway through locally distinctive materials.

Producing the Goods 7 : Growing things