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Now in its 24th year, the Marble Architectural Awards (MAA) honor achievements in stone architecture, and they focus on a different area of the world each year. For the 2008 edition, the MAA focused on trends in the use of natural stone in Central and South America and South Africa. (The competition also invited architects to submit projects completed in Australia, although none were selected as top winners for 2008.) Response to the competition was solid, as the jury was asked to examine over 60 projects this year.
The awards, which are organized by Internazionale Marmi e Macchine (IMM) Carrara, are open to architects and designers who have found “uses and solutions showing absolute excellence” in natural stone. An exhibit of the winning projects will be on display at CarraraMarmotec, which takes place from May 29 to June 1 in the famed stoneworking center of Carrara, Italy.
The MAA competition judges the use of natural stone in three different categories: Exteriors, Interiors and Urban Landscape. The jury met at the IMM head offices in Carrara and was composed of Mariella Zoppi, professor at the faculty of architecture at Florence University and Chairman of the Fine Arts Academy in Carrara; IMM Chairman Giorgio Bianchini; and Sauro Cerri, from the scientific committee of the “Carlo L. Ragghianti” Foundation. According to IMM Carrara, the jury all agreed on the fact that the use of natural stone conveys prestige, and they added that white marble adds particular distinction and value to projects or individual elements thereof.
With this in mind, the jury reported a prominent trend to use marble in residential buildings, especially high-profile villas. “Naturally, thanks to the presence and work of many Italian entrepreneurs who have set up extraction and processing businesses all over the world, there is a trend to use local materials that are combined, especially in interiors, with quality pieces in white marble or other Italian materials,” read a statement released by IMM. “This trend is seen above all in countries such as South Africa, Argentina, Brazil and Mexico, where there is a great variety of architectural languages ranging from Asian minimalism to rationalism to local architectural traditions.”
“Once again, we have seen that the great tradition of using Apuan marble is present in all styles and all contexts,” said Bianchini as he presented the results of the competition to the press.
ExteriorsIn the Exteriors category, the First Prize award went to Casa de Meditacion in Mexico City, Mexico. This project was designed by Gerard Pascal and Carlos Pascal, and it was completed in December 2006. This project relied on the use of Grissal granite, which was quarried in Spain and exported to Mexico.
InteriorsIn the Interiors category, the jury declared a two-way tie for First Prize. One prize went to Atelman, Fourcade, Tapia Arquitectos of Argentina for the Museo de Arte Latino Americano in Buenos Aires, Argentina. This project utilized a range of materials, including Labradorite and Gris Mara granite (Argentinean granites), Carrara White marble from Italy, Crema Marfil from Spain and Jura Stone from Germany.
The other First Prize in the Interiors category went to a group of Mexican architects under the name of Zd+a (Yuri Zagorin Alazraki, Sindy Martinez Lortia, Walter Lingard and Francisco Garcia Marquez) for the Casa del Puente, which was completed in 2007 in Sierra Amatepec, Mexico. For this project, Mexican travertine was used in conjunction with Verde Saint Denise marble, which is quarried in Italy.
A Special Mention for the interiors went to the Mexican firm, BGP Arquitectura, for the CASA AV. This project was built in Mexico City using the Mexican stones Recinto and Gris Chiluca, combined with the Thassos White marble from Greece.
Urban LandscapeAccording to the MAA judges, the projects entered in the Urban Landscape category were of particular interest, as they sought to utilize local stone in large urban spaces highlighted by interesting color schemes.
First Prize was given to Luis da Silva and Kevin Johnston, South African architects who designed the Northern Cape Legislature (NLC) in Kimberley, South Africa, using native slate and other stone materials. The slate varieties used on the project included Agra Red, Silver Blue, Pamas Green and Rich Autumn. Additionally, Kimberlite - a type of igneous rock best known for sometimes containing diamonds - was used for the project. Appropriate to the location of the project, this material is named after the town of Kimberley.
The announcement of the winners is the first part of the overall process, which concludes with the presentation at CarraraMarmotec 2008. As part of this presentation, a fully illustrated official catalog of the winners will be presented - showcasing all of the characteristics of the individual projects. Additionally, the winning architects will explain the design philosophy of their award-winning projects and the motivation behind the choice of materials.
IMM’s partners in the organization of the event are Toscana Promozione and the Cassa di Risparmio di Carrara, with the support of Pietra Naturale e Pietra Autentica and private sponsors such as Gemignani e Vanelli Marmi Snc, Henraux S.p.A, La Facciata srl, Sagevan Marmi srl and Savema S.p.A.