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The fifth edition of Piedra, the International Natural Stone Fair, was held from May 8 to 11, 2004, at the Juan Carlos I Exhibition Centre in Madrid, Spain. The event, which was organized by IFEMA in collaboration with the Spanish Natural Stone Federation (FDP), featured the greatest business participation of its history, with a total of 581 exhibiting companies. It also achieved a record figure in terms of visitors, welcoming approximately 27,000 professionals, a 14.4% increase over the 2002 edition.
According to organizers, there was a significant presence of international buyers at the exhibition, fulfilling their expectations and confirming the wide promotion work carried out abroad in collaboration with the FDP. In total, international buyers came from 62 countries on five continents, making up 12% of all the visitors to Piedra 2004.
The growing international stature of the fair was also confirmed by the strong attendance of foreign companies exhibiting at this edition. A total of 230 exhibitors hailed from South Africa, Germany, Austria, Brazil, China, Korea, Egypt, Slovenia, the U.S., France, Greece, India, Iran, Israel, Italy, Mauritania, Mexico, the Netherlands, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, the United Kingdom, Russia, San Marino, Singapore, Switzerland and Turkey.
Piedra 2004 included a new feature, with two central areas, one for machinery, tools and instruments and another dedicated to the natural stone sector. The net exhibition area measured more than 300,000 square feet, showing the buoyancy of this export-oriented sector, which in the 2002 financial year witnessed a balance of trade surplus of 676 million Euros (U.S.$830 million) and an overall turnover of 3.72 billion Euros (U.S.$4.57 million)
Additionally, Piedra 2004 debuted â€œArt in Natural Stone,â€ a specific exhibition in which a number of prestigious Spanish and international artists highlighted the multiple opportunities that this raw material offers within the artistic field. Pancho Castelo, HÃ©ctor Delgado, MarÃa Carretero and Alberto BaÃ±uelas as well as international artists Nicolae Saptefrati, Milen Vassilev and Ora Reuven, were among those included.
The exhibition also featured the Piedra 2004 Architecture Awards on the morning of Friday, May 7. After having studied the 58 projects that were presented -- 49 in the â€œCompleted Work Projectsâ€ category and nine within the new â€œStudent Projectsâ€ category -- the jury granted the â€œCompleted Work Projectsâ€ Award to â€œCasa Encinasâ€ by Vicens-Ramos Estudio de Arquitectura, due to its employment of Spanish natural stone and its originality, innovation, the building methods employed and aesthetic appeal.