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Polygonal Style Stonework

By Thinking With My Hands on Mar 29, 2012

We travelled today in Mallorca from Deia to Lluc by bus. It was thrilling ride accented by hundreds of terraced walls, towering rock faces, tunnels and scenic vistas of the valley The whole way we saw armies of bicyclists peddling madly every mile of winding road we travelled.  We checked in at the monastery and then some of us went for about 5 hour hike. Later that evening Patrick and I began discussing the unique characteristics of some of the polygonal style of stonework one sees all over Mallorca.


It is very challenging to try to define the constraints of this very distinctive style which can be seen in both the formal dry stone Mallorcan terrace work and the buildings. 

Patrick did a drawing for Margot showing how the stones create an interlocking pattern where each stone face, being generally five or six sided, meets every other stone along  the edges and only bisecting at an place where the contours of both stones angle off at different directions. In other words, two stones never meet one another butted up to the line of a third stone, but rather all three stones can only meet at the point where their straight contours change and veer of in different directions. The angles of the three stone faces are always more than 90 degrees and never more than about 130 degrees. 

The buildings at the monastery have carefully shaped conventional rectangular quoins but then immediately begin branching off into the polygonal pattern as the stonework works its way back from the corners. This creates a very dynamic network of shapes. It would be much more difficult to do this kind of shaping and fitting than coursed stonework.
You can see that the bonding would be much stronger since the stones would lock from side to side and not just up and down from top to bottom.


In Deia we saw three different examples of Mallorcan stonework. The tight fitting formal crafted work which can be seen supporting the elevated road near the top of this photo - the rustic rough more countrified polygonal exemplified by the wall in the middle -and the less attractive modern stonework at the bottom approaching a wavy very unsatisfying coursed pattern. The good, the not bad, and the ugly.

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