Sustainable housing: dry stone

Sustainable housing: dry stone

Dry stone is an ancient construction technique that uses only one material, stone. It is called "dry" due to the absence of gripping mortars, binder or mortar between its pieces and, consequently, of water.

The dry stone technique is the fruit of the creativity and experimentation of millions of people throughout history and constitutes a true popular, ethnic and millenary architecture.

The stone construction originated as one of the techniques that integrate what can be understood as "popular architecture", that is to say a project activity rooted in the art of conceiving and producing habitable or functional spaces according to the needs of the peoples.

This ancient knowledge is not lost

The proper placement of some stones with respect to the others, taking into account the coefficients of friction and the force of gravity, the main factors of cohesion between them, allows the construction of a great variety of construction elements, without the need to rig them with gripping mortars.

The first constructions in the history of humanity that were erected were dry, the dolmens. Intuitively and instinctively, a stone slab was placed on two pillars, thus giving rise to the first construction created by man, a shelter in its purest sense.

This technique is the result of the creativity, ingenuity and constant experimentation of millions of hands, in order to satisfy basic needs of the time: shelter, livestock management and agriculture. By following a series of basic premises such as placing the stone on two others or always looking for a minimum of three support points, durable constructions are achieved that maintain a permanent isostatic balance between all its components.

As is logical, in vernacular architecture local material was used to incorporate it into constructions. For this reason, depending on the place, the dry stone technique varies according to the formal, mechanical or pictorial qualities of the mother rock, thus staining our rural environment with a very varied color chart, from the red of sandstone or rodeno to the light white of limestone.

A dry stone specialist hardly carves or molds the pieces, but instead looks for and chooses the stone whose indelible destiny places it in its exact location

By groping the face of the stone as if it were a Braille script, they are able to understand the correct position required by the piece. There is no bad stone, they all have their place in the puzzle, as they say: "Every stone makes a wall ”.

These country buildings, of a sober, austere character and anonymous authorship, bear witness to the passing of time and reflect the image of a contemporary rural exodus, which left this technique in a fragile situation but whose rebirth is latent.

“Dry stone barracks that crown the Maestrat dels Castells, continue, continue with the silent message of holiness. And don't stop because we believe in all of you, and because you have given us defense and still do. " -Jaume Rolíndez Fonollos inNearby l’ànima del Maestrat dels Castells


We share two publications to begin to learn more about this topic and find all the information regarding types of buildings, construction techniques, construction phases and tips.


Dry stone construction: download here

The architecture of dry stone: download here

With information from: (by Joan Romero Clausell, Cooperative Partner in Okambuva. Management and execution of bio-construction projects

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