Astudio’s Research & Development programme is collaborative. Since September 2015, Astudio has been involved with the Brunel University Co-innovate programme to co-supervise undergraduate projects for the development of a curriculum for product design students to achieve an outcome of architectural projects.
Two such projects use Portland Stone as the impetus for research development. Portland Stone is a limestone from the Jurassic period quarried on the Isle of Portland, Dorset. It has been used extensively as a building stone throughout the British Isles, notably in major public buildings in London such as St Paul’s Cathedral and Buckingham Palace. Quarrying is an inefficient process which produces a lot of waste (up to 80%).
One student, Jack Biltcliffe, succeeded in building an experimental 3D printer using a SCARA mechanism which has been adapted to print miniature pieces with Portland Stone waste.
Brunel student Issy Scott developed a bio-responsive façade prototype to withstand natural weathering whilst offering a porous structure to encourage the growth of mosses and vegetation on North-facing façades.
On the Portland isle itself, Astudio have been working with the Portland Sculpture & Quarry Trust to create a theatre and performance space built from Portland Stone. This project aims to implement research and local knowledge informed by local botanists, geologists, schools and stakeholder to create a space that benefits the local environment and economy.
By encouraging performers and visitors to the island we hope to illuminate the cultural heritage of Portland Stone whilst offering an opportunity to regenerate the landscapes from the quarrying past.