Israeli Limestone Creates a Contemporary Style

July 1, 2009
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Photos by Sigal Kolton
Halila limestone - known in the U.S. as “Antique Gold” - was extensively used for the design of a private residence in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, Israel. The home’s exterior paving features a combination of 8- x 8-, 8- x 16-, 16- x 16- and 16- x 24-inch tiles, which form a Roman floor pattern.

Nestled in a luxurious neighborhood in the suburbs of Tel Aviv, Israel, a newly constructed three-story home is a showcase of Halila limestone - a material known in the U.S. market as “Antique Gold.” The design objective for the residence was to create an open contemporary environment, while at the same time, developing a warm homey atmosphere.

“The proportions of the lot are long and rectangular,” explained Ron Yahal, who was the project architect along with Limor Yahal. “The structure was designed so that the front of the house is narrow, in order to provide a sense of proportion to the narrow street. The back of the house is longer and faces a yard with a patio.”

The limestone pieces, which were quarried and fabricated by Jerusalem Marble A. Grebelsky, were given an antique look with a unique finish of sandblast and acid wash - creating a non-slip surface that is ideal for the pool area.

The Halila limestone, which was quarried and supplied by Jerusalem Marble A. Grebelsky of Jerusalem, Israel, was employed throughout the exterior and interior of the residence. “We wanted to use a local, light-colored stone in large sizes - providing a clean luxurious look to the structure, combined with warmth and locality,” said Yahal, adding that his client was involved in the selection process. “We were contemplating between Halila and several other limestones. All have high-quality properties, although we decided to go with the light and warm tones of the Halila limestone over the rather cooler tones of the other limestones.”

According to the architect, the Halila quarries - located in an area between Hebron and Jerusalem - consist of numerous stone layers, which have various properties and colors. “The stone for this project was carefully selected during the production process at the Jerusalem Marble A. Grebelsky & Son factory,” he explained. “A dry mock-up was prepared by the factory in order to ensure that the end result would be satisfactory by the client.”

To maintain continuity, Halila limestone tiles were also employed as flooring throughout the interior spaces of the home.

For the patio and pool surround, a combination of tile sizes was utilized to form a Roman floor pattern. The sizes measured 8 x 8, 8 x 16, 16 x 16 and 16 x 24 inches. The limestone pieces were given an antique look with a unique finish of sandblast and acid wash.

“The acid wash is functional since it brings out the original color of the stone after the sandblasting,” said Yahal. “The major advantage in this finish is having a non-slip texture on one hand, and on the other hand, having a soft pleasant texture for walking barefoot. The use of natural stone in this finish around the swimming pool creates a beautiful, warm, unique look.”

A feature staircase is made of 1 ¾-inch-thick slabs of Halila limestone with a honed finish on the face of the tread as well as the exposed edges. The staircase is located near one of the home’s main attractions - a room in which a full-sized dinosaur head replica is displayed.

To maintain continuity, Halila limestone tiles were also employed as flooring throughout the interior spaces of the home. “We chose 32- x 32-inch tiles in order to keep a good proportion to the size of the house,” explained the architect, adding that the tiles for the interior applications were given a honed finish.

Yahal went on to say that the honed finish was created by re-polishing the limestone floor tiles after the installation was complete, to achieve a clean contemporary style rather than a rustic feel. The limestone tiles were installed without grout, but with epoxy adhesive in the joints.

In addition to the large-format Halila limestone tiles in the main living areas of the home, the same material was used in 8- x 8- and 16- x 16-inch pieces in the bathrooms. Moreover, a feature staircase is made of 1 ¾-inch-thick slabs of Halila limestone, with a honed finish on the face of the tread as well as the exposed edges.

According to the architect, one of the most challenging aspects of the design was developing a balance between the expansiveness of the residence and its warm inviting atmosphere. Additionally, it was important to provide privacy for the homeowners, while also creating maximum openness to the view and continuity between the house and the backyard.

“The distinctiveness in the use of limestone in this modern-style home is that the limestone is not solely limited to rustic or antiqued looks, and it can just as well complement contemporary homes,” said Yahal.

Sidebar: Private Residence

Tel Aviv, Israel

Architects: Ron and Limor Yahal

Stone Quarrier/Fabricator: Jerusalem Marble A. Grebelsky, Jerusalem, Israel

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