German Natural Stone Award at Stone+tec 2018: “One of the most important architecture awards in the country”

Short interview with architect Gunther Bayer  /// by 

Photo: Bayer & Strobel Architekten

When we hear “contemporary architecture”, most of us immediately conjure up a vision of a glass and concrete structure. And of course these materials have dominated architecture in the last one hundred years or so. But natural stone continues to play a major role in the construction industry. This centuries-old building material, which comes in a virtually inexhaustible range of colours and patterns, may no longer give today’s buildings the structural stability of the castles and cathedrals of the past, but it often does lend them a certain aesthetic flair.

Architect Gunther Bayer is juror of the German Natural Stone Award 2018, Photo: Bayer & Strobel Architekten

The start of Stone+tec 2018 on 13 June will also be marked by the presentation of the German Natural Stone Award. Architects and landscape architects can submit projects using natural stone in four different categories. One of the jury members will be architect Gunther Bayer. With his firm Bayer & Strobel Architekten, he was one of the nominees for the coveted prize in the category of “Massive building elements and building within existing structures” for the Ingelheim Chapel of Rest project in 2013.

Gunther Bayer, what encourages people to participate in this material-specific competition?
The German Natural Stone Award has become established as one of the most important architecture awards in Germany. It’s worthwhile considering taking part, and putting your stone projects up for discussion. What I personally appreciate most is that the award illustrates the broad range covered by stone as a material: from use in the smallest chapel through to the large ministry buildings in Berlin.

Photo: Bayer & Strobel Architekten

Given this versatility, which building situations are most suited to the use of stone?
By its very nature, stone radiates a certain weightiness. It’s very well suited for emphasising a structure’s solidity and permanence. For urban construction, too, stone is usually a good choice, and helps position a building in the urban fabric. Whether you’re just adding definition to a pedestal or facing an entire building in stone …
Before you studied architecture, you completed an apprenticeship as a stonemason – is that where you get your love of stone from?
As an architect, of course, there are lots of other materials you can choose, all with their own appeal. But it’s possible that I still have a certain preference left over from those days. Stone as a material radiates a particular charisma. It’s a symbol of value and permanence. Its surface has a unique texture of its own. Then there are all the different options for shaping it, from sand-blasting to stacking. Local stone, in particular, provides a strong regional connection. Local stone places new buildings in a particular cultural and living environment, and creates a sense of familiarity. There are not many other materials that can achieve that.

For more information on Gunther Bayer’s work, please visit: www.bayerundstrobel.de

For information and application documents for the German Natural Stone Award see: www.deutscher-natursteinpreis.de

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