Fake stone. It slipped quietly into our culture as part of the aesthetic atrocities committed in the sixties. It was found guilty, incarcerated, then, I understood, they threw away the key.
A decade later, stick-and-stoney-brick-things made a reappearance under the suspect cover of the big DIY. Like a burgeoning Disney theme park, pretend houses built from compound, twigs, and hay became the norm. The wolves laughed in our faces and no-one seemed to care. Not in my street.
Self-build took off. The unscrupulous developer could not be seen hiding from the trees. The joke gained acceptance – we’re not laughing now. Somehow, the desire for building in stone appears to have diminished over time. The lasting beauty of natural stone has just … faded from our continuousness.
There are those in government, charged with looking after our best interests – the project clients, commissioners, designers and approvers, specifiers, builders, landscapers, the decision makers, the key influencers, those with vested interest, Shouldn’t they be making certain that those buildings have a chance of being around in more than 30 years? Shouldn’t buildings of stone be given precedence: extra points, so to speak? If we huff and puff and shake these guys, will they wake up and smell the resin? That’s their job. Or are these design and building principles only valid in Edinburgh’s New Town?
How many eyes are offended when fakes, poor pastiche or pale imitation stone is proposed, passed and specified? Why does no-one from these interest groups offer an equal share of voice for the real deal? We may never know.
Here is the thing: it’s easy to blame someone else. I too stood by, paying attention only to that bloke with that fringe playing the violin.
Misdirected and misinformed, we are nonetheless jointly and severally responsible. As temporary custodians of our built heritage, we have to hope that there is hope, for the richest legacy of traditional (pre-1919) buildings and other stone structures of any country in the world.