Port Said Lighthouse Dances with Slicedstone

Slicedstone, from bathroom specialist Marmox, has been used extensively to clad a new lighthouse in Port Said, replacing the deactivated original, which stood sentinel over the city at the northern end of the Suez Canal since its opening in 1869.

The old lighthouse – now a historical monument - is unusual and considered architecturally important as it was the first in the world to be constructed from reinforced concrete, which architect Karim Gabr took into consideration when designing the visually stunning replacement.

Explaining the concepts to ‘The Dancing Lighthouse,’ Karim stated: “The twisted grey shell was designed as an octagonal construction that lessens as we go up, simulating the old lighthouse. Then, I deconstructed the form inspired by the motions of the sea’s waves and the folklore dance, Elsemsemya, which Port Said is famous for. The material of this shell is a natural grey stone that expresses the idea of the original concrete lighthouse.” The space surrounding the lighthouse comprises of three-level ‘cylinders’ covered with yellow stone representing the yellow sand of the city's coastline. The open space is interspersed by three water fountains representing the three water sources surrounding the city: the Mediterranean Sea, the Suez Canal and Lake Manzala.

Slicedstone was specified by Karim Gabr’s practice to enhance the lighthouse and its environs, being that it is a natural material produced from large stone slabs, with each veneer being unique in appearance. The lightweight sheets are backed with a 100% waterproof decoupling membrane, allowing them to be secured using cement based tile adhesive.

Incorporating the latest technology, the re-engineered veneers of Indian sandstone, along with their stabilised backing are treated with a clear polycarbonate solution to offer a flexible surface that is both durable and waterproof, as well as stain resistant.

This allows for the easy removal of grout and adhesive residue while being natural, they are UV resistant and will not fade over time.

Slicedstone’s large format means, of course when compared to traditional tiles, savings were made on the costs of fixings, grout and glue – as well as on the labour costs through quicker installation. The lightweight sheets are available in three sizes, these being 1220 x 610mm, 2100 x 105 mm and 2400 x 1050mm, weighing between 2.5 to 3.0 kg per square metre – they are just 4 ± 1.5mm thick and offer a moisture absorption rate of less than 2.5%.

Combined with the elegant twisted wooden core of the lighthouse – drawing on the city's historical timeline - the contrast between the mellow browns of the wood, the colours of the sky and the softness of the grey Slicedstone helps make the Dancing Lighthouse a genuinely striking edifice. Sitting atop the contrasting yellow Slicedstone plinth, the iconic new structure is a fitting replacement on the city’s skyline.

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