From Monumental Ruins to Lavish Interiors: 18 Projects that Prove Marble is a Timeless Material
When thinking of marble, we often associate the material with ancient Greek sculptures, Classical architecture, or the Italian Renaissance. Monumental landmarks such as the St. Peter’s Basilica or the Taj Mahal, have positioned marble as an elite and timeless material that stands the test of time. And in today’s conversations about the future of construction materials, amid sustainability, feasibility, and affordability, the natural stone remains high-caliber. In this interior focus, we’re taking a look at marble between the past, present, and future.
Marble is a result of the metamorphic transformation of limestone and other sedimentary carbonate rocks under extreme heat and pressure. Different types of marble are found across the world, spanning from the United States, to Egypt and India, each with unique veins and color gradations as a result of impurities in the limestone. As a material that is applied to interiors, facades, and structural foundations, marble is highly praised by architects due to its high strength, heat resistance, tolerance, durability, versatility in applications, affordability, and a variety of unique colors and textures.
The use of marble in construction dates back to the very first century, prominently in countries around the Mediterranean Sea. In Greece, earliest marble extractions took place in the islands of Paros and Naxos in the Aegean Sea, which due to its popularity back then, made them dominant in that practice. In Anatolia, the major part of modern-day Turkey, marble was used in the construction of homes, tombs, and temples during the Roman, Byzantine, Seljuk, and Ottoman periods, leading to the creation of the Temple of Artemis and Mausoleum at Halicarnassus , one of the seven wonders of the world.
Throughout the first two millennia, marble had undergone numerous changes with its mining techniques and transportation. Due to its expense and time consumption, its use was reserved for monuments and socially-significant buildings such as courthouses, temples, and city halls. But by the beginning of the 20th century, changed processing techniques, especially after the introduction of electric hoists which enabled larger block extractions. Today, cutting-edge technologies have facilitated labor in quarries and realized the development of intricate interior finishing, furniture pieces, and accessories made exclusively with marble.
Although the marble market is divided by color, application, and geography, it is estimated to be valued at a surplus of USD 18 billion in 2021, with no sign of decline in the near future. Its physical characteristics and timeless aesthetic has maintained it as one of the most popular architecture and interior materials, especially in kitchen countertops, flooring, and bathroom applications. In terms of environmental footprint, some argue that the marble extraction process is ecologically harmful and energy intensive, while many others define marble as a true sustainable building material, since it is extracted directly from the earth, and is extremely durable – lasting centuries with minimal signs of deterioration. Even in terms of recycling, the material’s longevity makes it easy to repair or repurpose, such as by breaking down large slabs into smaller pieces or mosaics for decorative or alternative applications.
Along with its strength and resistance attributes, marble’s aesthetic prominence, with its exceptional veins and diverse color palette has made it one of the most popular finishes for interior projects. There are 4 main types of marble finishes: Raw, marble that was just sawn off and left as it was removed from its deposit; Polisheda smooth and glossy appearance; tumbled, an intermediate finish which gives an opaque and smooth appearance and maintains the natural color of the rock; and brushed, which consists of brushing with diamond abrasive brushes on the rock surface, the surface slightly uneven with a slight satin shine.
The Apartment / DO Architects
Mikveh Oh / arqhé studio
Céline Flagship Store / Valerio Olgiati
FAUNO HOUSE – CASA COR 2019 / Leo Shehtman Arquitetura e Design
Grange Residence / Conrad Architects
Bestseller Shanghai Office / Linehouse
Maison à Colombages Refurbishment / 05AM Arquitectura
BoZen Bar / Central Arquitectos
Bent dan Light / BK Interior Design & Architectural Planning
Mercuric Table – Zaha Hadid x CITCO
Paso Doble / Babled
Decorative / Accent Elements
Iskra / NOWADAYS office
RÒMOLA / Andrés Jaque Architects
Looking at the Acropolis of Athens, the Roman Coliseum, or the Taj Mahal, it is evident that marble has long been used as a symbol of prestigious social status and quality. And because of its unique geological formations, the material offers versatile compositions and designs. Appearance aside, it is resistant to heat, cold, humidity, and erosion, making ideal for exterior applications.
Marble House / Openbox Architects
Musée d’arts de Nantes / Stanton Williams
Marsotto Milan Showroom / nendo
Out of all the natural stones, marble’s abundant availability and ability to uphold, a notion that was essential centuries ago, are the biggest reasons why marble was one of the most used materials in ancient architecture. As builders did not have the machinery or tools available today, they wanted to use materials that were robust yet easy to cut or curve to create their monumental structures. As for 21st century constructions, all the physical characteristics mentioned above, as well as its sustainable attributes, has made marble a sought-after structural material.
Acne Studios Stockholm Store / ARQUITECTURA-G
Play Contract / Superflex + KWY.studio
Find more marble projects in this My ArchDaily folder created by the author.
This article is part of an ArchDaily series that explores features of interior architecture, from our own database of projects. Every month, we will highlight how architects and designers are utilizing new elements, new characteristics and new signatures in interior spaces around the world. As always, at ArchDaily, we highly appreciate the input of our readers. If you think we should mention specific ideas, please submit your suggestions.
This article is part of the ArchDaily Topics: The future of Construction Materials. Every month we explore a topic in-depth through articles, interviews, news, and projects. Learn more about our ArchDaily topics. As always, at ArchDaily we welcome the contributions of our readers; if you want to submit an article or project, contact us.