7 exceptional self-builds using stone - Grand Designs Magazine

7 exceptional self-builds using stone

Some of these homes are made of it, while others feature striking stone cladding

By Amy Frearson |

Houses have been built out of stone for thousands of years, yet architects and builders are still finding new ways of working with it. Take a look at these striking stone houses.

The world’s oldest building material has been reinvented in the 21st century. Whatever the method, the results are multi-tonal and textural, which can help a home stand out or blend in with the landscape. This material doesn’t just look good, it is highly durable and its thermal mass can help to passively heat and cool an interior.

These inspiring self-build projects demonstrate why it’s time to embrace the new stone age.

1. Flint

Flint is certainly not the most common form of stone used in architecture but it offers a distinctive character. At Harbour House, a two-storey property in West Sussex, this crystallised form of quartz is used to create a decorative but durable cladding that is fitting for its seaside location.

Mclean Quinlan designed the 455 square metre house as three blocks. The flint-clad main house contains large, open family spaces on the ground floor and four en-suite bathrooms upstairs. Both brick and flint feature inside the building too, where they are used to mark the divides between the different wings.

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Photo: Mclean Quinlan

2. Dry-stone technique

A pair of old chicken sheds provided unlikely inspiration for this family home in the Cotswolds. Designed by bureau de change, the house comprises two adjoining barn-like structures.

A dry-stone technique was used to provide a rugged but also formal rhythm to the exterior of the second block. Skylights dot the roofs, ensuring that every room, including the four bedrooms, benefits from plenty of natural light.

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Photo: Bureau de Change

3. Limestone pebbles

Designed by Gottstein Architects, this family home in County Kerry, Ireland, puts a new spin on rural vernacular. Limestone pebbles are inset into the rendered exterior walls, giving the house a dark tone and a tactility that belie its clean and bright interior.

The roofs are clad with slate, the traditional choice in the area, which matches the grey tones of the limestone.

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Photo: Gottstein Architects

4. Local stone

There are two types of granite quarried in Guernsey: blue-grey Bordeaux diorite and the red-brown Cobo granite.

Both varieties feature on the facade of The Glade, a family home on the east of the island, designed by DLM Architects. Most of this stone, along with the bricks that line the interior, is recycled, all coming from the demolition of a building that occupied the site previously.

Photo: DLM

5. Ragstone

Architects Mclean Quinlan chose a markedly different type of stone for this home in Kent.

Much of the 693 square metre house is designed in the spirit of southeast Asia, where its occupants spent many years of their life, yet the ragstone walls – a hard grey limestone – give it a vernacular character that is unmistakeably Kentish.

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Photo: Mclean Quinlan

6. Space for nature

Sartfell Nature Reserve on the Isle of Man is the setting for this rural retreat, designed by Foster Lomas. Local craftsmen used stone excavated from the site to build dry-stone walls that weave across the landscape to form the exterior of the 300 square metre property.

Gaps between the stones are intentional; the idea is that these walls, as well as the building’s wildflower-covered roof, will become an environment where plants and wildlife can thrive. This home made the shortlist for Grand Designs House of The Year 2019.

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Photo: Foster Lomas

7. Basalt

Basalt was chosen by 2020 Architects for the walls of this 5-bedroom country house in Northern Ireland after the clients requested a building with the solidity of a Georgian or Regency terrace.

This chunky stone is made contemporary through its pairing with more lightweight elements, like the Corten steel window box and the asymmetric slate-covered roof.

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Photo: 2020 Architects