Natural Stone Awards 2018
Conservation and heritage projects were some of the stars of the show at the 2018 Natural Stone Awards, with award winning heritage projects coming from the length and breadth of Great Britain.
Held every two years, the Natural Stone Awards celebrate the very best projects and professionals that the natural stone industry has to offer. The categories cover the full spectrum of the industry, from new build cladding and city-centre landscaping projects through to conservation work and high-end residential developments.
The 2018 awards saw hundreds of projects entered across the different categories, and particularly encouraging was the 15% increase seen in entries compared to the 2016 Awards, making the judge’s task even harder.
Stone Federation Chief Executive, Jane Buxey commented that:
“The 2018 Natural Stone Awards have been a fantastic celebration of the very best that this industry has to offer the architectural, construction and design sectors. The number of projects featuring a mixture of traditional stonemasonry and CNC machinery is a good example of the intelligent approach taken by the sector to embracing innovation while maintaining the skills that form the bed-rock of this industry. I would like to congratulate all those involved with the winning, highly commended and commended entries for their part in the creation of these stunning projects.”
There were a number of award categories dedicated to the conservation and heritage sector of the natural stone industry, these included: Repair & Restoration, Repair & Restoration – Interiors, Carving, Lettering & Sculpture, Special Cathedral (Fellowship) Award and Reconstruction.
The standard of the winning, highly commended and commended projects was very high throughout these categories, however there were several projects that provided an exceptional example of excellence in craftsmanship, project management and stone selection.
The joint winners in the Historic England sponsored Repair & Restoration category were Inverness Townhouse and the Palace of Westminster.
In the heart of Inverness, the Inverness Townhouse project involved a two-phase restoration spread across a three-year period. Phases 1 and 2 included external fabric repairs to the external stone envelope, rot repairs and re-slating of scotch slate roofs including new lead valleys, gutters and flashings.
Macroscopic and microscopic examination identified extensive stonework damage. This was predominantly due to defective rain water goods, excessive inappropriate cement-rich plastic repairs and dense white cement pointing to masonry joints.
In some places the stone needed to be fully replaced or part indented, and conservator repairs were used to the remaining existing stone fabric.
Almost 3,000 hours of professional conservation repairs were exercised on the remaining original carvings, the Mercat Cross and on the various descriptive plaque wall face panels. The Judges commented that this project showcased an exemplary range of skilfully detailed, intricate and diverse carvings, crafts skills and associated works.
The award given to the Palace of Westminster was for the work undertaken on the Chancellors Court, located within this historic site. The brief included the cleaning and repair of masonry which involved identifying cleaning and repair methods and specification of materials that were more appropriate to the building and current conservation approaches, and would inform similar works to subsequent courtyards.
A particular challenge to this project was the requirement to undertake a large and complex project without disruption to the business of Parliament. This required complex programming and stakeholder liaison with the House of Lords and its representatives, with ‘quiet times’ imposed while the House was sitting, sometimes at very short notice.
The project welcomed apprentices from the Building Crafts College who have worked alongside the principal stone contractor’s stonemasons to gain their qualifications in NVQ level 3 Advanced Stonemasonry. The project has proven to be an excellent training ground providing the opportunity to set out and work gothic revival masonry from sawn six sides block on site in the specially constructed banker shop.
The Judges commented that the work was crisp and not too intrusive with its replacements, cleaning, reporting and repairs. They were impressed with how the new work has been successfully blended with the existing leading to a highly successful and sensitive restoration job. They also praised the approach of using the scheme to invest in apprentices which added extra merit to it.
It wasn’t just commercial projects that enjoyed success at the 2018 Natural Stone Awards. The Kirkmichael project on Scotland’s Black Isle was a multi-disciplinary community project, 18 years in the making and supported by over 50 individual donors and 30 contributing organisations. The commitment by the local community to this site has rescued a severely deteriorating, nationally important Scheduled Ancient Monument and B-Listed structure from complete collapse.
The judges were impressed with the sensitive conservation work that had been carried out and the extensive support the project had received from the local community.
The teams behind these three projects, along with the other category winners, received a hand-carved Kentish Ragstone trophy and certificate from the 2018 Natural Stone Awards guest presenter, Loyd Grossman CBE FSA at a ceremony in London. Attended by over 350 leading architects, main contractors, trade and client bodies and natural stone firms, the Natural Stone Awards ceremony is the highlight date in the sector’s calendar. The ceremony was compered by sports presenter, Jim Rosenthal who was assisted by voice of Strictly Come Dancing and the National Lottery, Alan Dedicoat.
Guests at the Awards received a copy of the 2018 Natural Stone Awards Souvenir Brochure which can be ordered free of charge at bit.ly/StoneAwardsBrochure.