Launch Slideshow

ProspectingFor stone to be extracted from the ground and fabricated for architectural use, the first step is finding deposits that will yield large, roughly cubic blocks that can be cut into smaller blocks, or, more commonly, slabs that are thin and flat. Cylindrical borers drill down as far as 5 meters for sectional samples of stone to determine precisely its properties and its potential to yield commercially viable blocks.

Carrara Marble

We visit a quarry that produces Carrara Marble and follow it from extraction through finishing.

Carrara Marble

We visit a quarry that produces Carrara Marble and follow it from extraction through finishing.

  • ProspectingFor stone to be extracted from the ground and fabricated for architectural use, the first step is finding deposits that will yield large, roughly cubic blocks that can be cut into smaller blocks, or, more commonly, slabs that are thin and flat. Cylindrical borers drill down as far as 5 meters for sectional samples of stone to determine precisely its properties and its potential to yield commercially viable blocks.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp63%2Etmp_tcm20-185569.jpg

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    ProspectingFor stone to be extracted from the ground and fabricated for architectural use, the first step is finding deposits that will yield large, roughly cubic blocks that can be cut into smaller blocks, or, more commonly, slabs that are thin and flat. Cylindrical borers drill down as far as 5 meters for sectional samples of stone to determine precisely its properties and its potential to yield commercially viable blocks.

    600

    Jameson Simpson

    PROSPECTING For stone to be extracted from the ground and fabricated for architectural use, the first step is finding deposits that will yield large, roughly cubic blocks that can be cut into smaller blocks, or, more commonly, slabs that are thin and flat. Cylindrical borers drill down as far as 5 meters for sectional samples of stone to determine precisely its properties and its potential to yield commercially viable blocks.

  • Quarrying  Bench cuts as deep as 3 meters coax the marble out in enormous blocks. These cuts, made with a large diamond-wire saw, are first made behind what will be the extracted block, and then beneath it: Precision is crucial. Heavy-duty shovels help to wedge the material away from the mass of the larger deposit. Workers lay out a bed of softer rubble around the block (right) so it lands gently when it rolls over a step known as the bacio, or kiss, because it needs to land in just the right place.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp64%2Etmp_tcm20-185576.jpg?width=580

    true

    Quarrying Bench cuts as deep as 3 meters coax the marble out in enormous blocks. These cuts, made with a large diamond-wire saw, are first made behind what will be the extracted block, and then beneath it: Precision is crucial. Heavy-duty shovels help to wedge the material away from the mass of the larger deposit. Workers lay out a bed of softer rubble around the block (right) so it lands gently when it rolls over a step known as the bacio, or kiss, because it needs to land in just the right place.

    580

    Jameson Simpson

    QUARRYING "Bench cuts" as deep as 3 meters coax the marble out in enormous blocks. These cuts, made with a large diamond-wire saw, are first made behind what will be the extracted block, and then beneath it: Precision is crucial. Heavy-duty shovels help to wedge the material away from the mass of the larger deposit. Workers lay out a bed of softer rubble around the block (right) so it lands gently when it rolls over a step known as the bacio, or kiss, because it needs to land in just the right place.

  • CuttingAt the Henraux finishing plant in the nearby town of Querceta, stone arrives from all over the world for finishing and then shipping to parts equally far-flung. Big bridgelike cranes, or gantries, span the yard and roll back and forth to move the heavy blocks around. One of the first steps is to square the irregular edges of the blocks (far left) with a diamond-wire saw (left). The square blocks are then moved under gang saws, which act like outsized food slicers, slicing the blocks into thin slabs as if they were loaves of bread.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp65%2Etmp_tcm20-185582.jpg

    true

    CuttingAt the Henraux finishing plant in the nearby town of Querceta, stone arrives from all over the world for finishing and then shipping to parts equally far-flung. Big bridgelike cranes, or gantries, span the yard and roll back and forth to move the heavy blocks around. One of the first steps is to square the irregular edges of the blocks (far left) with a diamond-wire saw (left). The square blocks are then moved under gang saws, which act like outsized food slicers, slicing the blocks into thin slabs as if they were loaves of bread.

    600

    Jameson Simpson

    CUTTING At the Henraux finishing plant in the nearby town of Querceta, stone arrives from all over the world for finishing and then shipping to parts equally far-flung. Big bridgelike cranes, or gantries, span the yard and roll back and forth to move the heavy blocks around. One of the first steps is to square the irregular edges of the blocks (left) with a diamond-wire saw (right). The square blocks are then moved under gang saws, which act like outsized food slicers, slicing the blocks into thin slabs as if they were loaves of bread.

  • FinishingOnce the block is sliced into thin slabs -- all individually bar-coded -- the pieces are moved to Henraux's finishing operation. Some are covered with an epoxy resin to fill in the natural cracks and then placed inside a catalysis oven. A round of abrasive polishing (right) removes excess epoxy from the surface. After inspection (far right), the finished stone is then packed in pest-protected wood crates and shipped all around the world.

    http://www.architectmagazine.com/Images/tmp66%2Etmp_tcm20-185594.jpg

    true

    FinishingOnce the block is sliced into thin slabs -- all individually bar-coded -- the pieces are moved to Henraux's finishing operation. Some are covered with an epoxy resin to fill in the natural cracks and then placed inside a catalysis oven. A round of abrasive polishing (right) removes excess epoxy from the surface. After inspection (far right), the finished stone is then packed in pest-protected wood crates and shipped all around the world.

    600

    Jameson Simpson

    FINISHING Once the block is sliced into thin slabs--all individually bar-coded--the pieces are moved to Henraux's finishing operation. Some are covered with an epoxy resin to fill in the natural cracks and then placed inside a catalysis oven. A round of abrasive polishing (left) removes excess epoxy from the surface. After inspection (right), the finished stone is then packed in pest-protected wood crates and shipped all around the world.

For people who might otherwise use money as wallpaper, there is no finishing or cladding material quite like the icy white and silver surfaces of marble from the mountains around Carrara, Italy. Of the numerous marble species that come from this area, one of the finest is Arabescato, taken from the Cervaiole quarry. The quarry is owned by Henraux, which puts the stone through rather low-tech but precisely choreographed paces between the shoulder of a moutain and a fancy hotel's bathroom.