London Design Festival
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
September 2021

A project by Aude-Line Duliere and Juliet Haysom

With a documentary by Ele Mun

Supported by Wallonie Brussels International

When the V&A rebuilt its Exhibition Road courtyard in 2013, the Aston Webb Screen (built in 1909) was transformed from a solid facade into the porous entrance we see now. More than four hundred large Portland Stones were removed from the original screen. To save them from being crushed into aggregate – which is the fate of most used stone, no matter how large, historic, and precious – they were hauled to a quarry in Dorset, where they have languished for nearly a decade.

Here, some of these stones – marked by a century of London pollution, cratered by shrapnel from the Blitz, and now cleaned and restored – make a comeback on Exhibition Road in the form of street furniture. This intervention points to the enduring possibilities for reusing stone, which is emerging as one of the lowest-impact building materials (if quarried and reused locally), holding great potential for the circular economy within the construction industry.

The Borough’s plan is to ship monolithic freshly-quarried granite blocks from India to this site, to form “permanent” street furniture. For the time being, these stones, originating in Dorset and bearing the traces of London’s recent history, will hold this space.

Curators: Meneesha Kellay and Catriona Macdonald

Collaborators: Mark Haysom (Haysom Purbeck Stone), Rotor, Hugo Corbett, James Westcott

Contributors: Ruth Siddall (UCL); Benoit Misonne (Pierre Bleue de Belgique); Francis Tourneur (Pierres et Marbres de Wallonie ASBL); Robert Greer and Tom Harvey (PAYE); Carlo Raffaelli (MSA); Steve Webb (Webb Yates Engineers); Charlie Corry Wright and Zachary Mollica (Architectural Association, Hooke Park); Lionel Devlieger, Tristan Boniver, Arne Vande Capelle, Lionel Billiet, Caterina Miralles Tagliabue (Rotor)

With special thanks to: Hailee Kukura and Corinna Gardner (V&A); Gary Noble, Peter Weeden, Gregory Colley and Kofi Anyang (RBKC), Laurence Degoudenne (WBI, Wallonia-Brussels International); Nathalie Brison (WBA, Wallonia-Brussels Architecture), Sebastien Mainil and Marie De Belder (AWAP, Walloon Heritage Agency and CEFOMEPI); Simona Palma and David Thonon (Awex, Walloon Export and Foreign Investment Agency); Sally Stott and Beatriz Chivite (Architectural Association), Ke Yang, Pol-André Dulière, Francis Kezirian and Geoffrey Baillez (Merbes de Sprimont), Julie Abraham (Pierre Bleue de Belgique), Simon Barker (Oxford University), Valerie Vermandel (Whitewood)