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Give them a big hand…

Stephen Cousins

J.Mayer.H’s hand celebrates historic plastering techniques and ECOLA winners

Credit: Guy Archard

Schwarzwälder Bollenputz might sound like an exhortation hurled by angry Germans at VW bosses right now, but it is in fact an historic plastering technique originating from the Black Forest region.

The method has been used to create the rough-hewn bumpy texture of a giant abstract hand, designed by renowned Berlin-based practice J.Mayer.H, that forms the centrepiece of the HANDS:ON exhibition at Sto Werkstatt in Clerkenwell.

The freestanding installation also functions as a seat from which visitors can view images, projected on the walls, of winning projects from the European Conference of Leading Architects (ECOLA) Awards, run by German architecture magazine AIT.

The ECOLA Awards celebrate international architecture that emphasises the quality of render and plaster building materials. HANDS: ON displays all the winning projects, from 2006 to this year’s awards, which were presented in May and chaired by Sir Peter Cook.

Jürgen Mayer, founding partner of J.MAYER.H, commented: ‘HANDS: ON investigates the various characteristics and qualities of plaster, its grain, colours and textures. With plaster as our primary material, we crafted an armature that fuses a place to sit and meet, with a structure to project and a surface that expresses the craftsmanship of stucco facades.’

  • Credit: Guy Archard
  • Credit: Guy Archard
  • Credit: Guy Archard

The installation’s bumpy texture was created using the fibre-reinforced mortar StoLevell CombiPlus to emulate the Schwarzwälder Bollenputz plastering effect. The abstraction of a reaching hand was conceived as a visual reference to the handcraft still involved in the plastering trade and the material’s haptic sensual qualities.

The HANDS:ON exhibition, and accompanying archive of ECOLA publications, features architecture schemes from 20 countries across Europe, including  projects by leading European practices such as Miller & Maranta, Adjaye Associates, David Chipperfield Architects, Delugan Meissl Associated Architects, ATELIER SOUKUP, John Pawson, x architekten, Carlos Arroyo Architects and Atelier Zafari.

HANDS:ON runs until  27 November 2015 at Sto Werkstatt in Woodbridge Street, Clerkenwell, London. Free entry.