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Set on property with a scenic view, a private estate in a suburb of Jerusalem, Israel, takes advantage of its natural environment. The use of Ramon Grey limestone - known in the U.S. as “Jerusalem Grey” - satisfied building regulations as well as creating a beautiful modern design.
“The design goal was to build two stone-faced houses on [an approximately 43,000-square-foot] hillside lot near Jerusalem,” said architect Meira Kowalsky of Israel. “The site overlooks a beautiful panorama of the Jerusalem mountains, so the design aimed at providing maximum open views from all spaces within the houses. At the time, in order to gently integrate the buildings into the topography, the architecture keeps a low, horizontal and solid profile.”
One of the homes was designed in a “Bauhaus” style, which used to be the main architectural style in Israel in the 1930s. This style of design is now making a comeback, and it is currently being used for many new residential projects in the area.
From the initial start of the design, it was determined that stone would be the primary building material. “Building regulations in Jerusalem - and in its vicinity - require the use of stone for the building envelope,” explained Kowalsky. “Our client wished for a stone house as well. So, designing in stone was a given. We chose the Ramon Grey limestone since we wanted a local stone, and we liked the color.”
The stone for the project was quarried and supplied by Jerusalem Marble A. Grebelsky of Jerusalem, Israel. “Ramon Grey is a grey/taupe-colored limestone originating from the Ramon quarry located in the Negev desert in the south of Israel,” said Arik Grebelsky of Jerusalem Marble. “In fact, the grey layer is the one located above the Jerusalem Gold layer.”
According to the architect, no other building materials were considered. “Our client owns a big infrastructure and earthworks company, and he is a stone connoisseur,” she said. “He introduced us to the company Jerusalem Marble. We spent much time with the client and with Mr. Grebelsky choosing the right stone.”
For the exterior walls of the home, the Ramon Grey limestone pieces were given a bushhammered finish. Additionally, the landscape walls in the garden are clad with natural cleft veneer stone in a random pattern, and above them are 4-inch copings in a fine-chiseled finish. Around the pool, the same stone was used both for the pool pavers as well as pool copings in a fine-chiseled finish. Ramon Grey limestone tiles - measuring 48 x 24 inches and featuring a “heavy patina” finish - were employed as flooring for the outside patio.
The interior design features an open and airy layout, making the living space appear expansive. Further contributing to the look and feel of the design are 48- x 24-inch floor tiles, which were also given a “heavy patina” finish. “The use of the antique finish, which was produced in this case with straight edges rather than antique ones, creates a nice blend of antique and modern styles,” said Grebelsky.
To develop the contemporary look that was desired, much consideration was given to the stone installation, explained the architect. “We wanted to design a contemporary house that reflects the local heritage of modern architecture,” she said. “The professional challenge was to clad the house with stone, as required in Jerusalem, without using traditional stone masonry details. Our strategy was to emphasize the cladding method by stacking large stone panels in rows and organizing them in a grid, rather than staggering them. Also, we constrained our design to a single stone detail - an L-shaped piece for all corners, heads and jambs.”
In the end, all those involved with the project were pleased with the final results. “The clients loved the house,” said Kowalsky.