“Carved in Stone”, marble sculptures inspired by life on Mars. An initiative of COSENTINO

Carved in Stone by Cosentino

“Carved in Stone”, organized by Grupo Cosentino, is a competition between architecture and design studios that were proposed to design marble sculptures inspired by “life on Mars”.

“Carved in Stone” was developed in the United Kingdom. The winning projects were those designed by the British architecture and design studios: Cartwright Pickard; Foster + Partners, Hugh Broughton Architects, Ian Ritchie Architects and Tonkin Liu.

The Almeria company Cuéllar Stone carved the designs in 500 x 500 x 500 mm Marble Macael blocks and were exhibited at the Cosentino City in London on the occasion of the London Design Week 2019.



The ‘Giant Phytoplankton Puzzle’ celebrates the wonder of ancient carved ivory puzzle balls and cutting-edge natural science. Carved from a 500 x 500 x 500mm block of Macael Marble, the sculpture comprises concentrically layered Emiliania huxleyi (E. huxleyi) phytoplankton, scaled up 1000 times. The phytoplankton are digitally modelled and exquisitely carved utilising advanced imaging of a single coccolithophore cell, captured by Dr Alex Ball, Head of Imaging and Analysis at London’s Natural History Museum. Tonkin Liu have a long-standing relationship with the Museum, collaborating with their researchers to push the boundaries of biomimetic design in architecture.

Tonkin Liu is a leading London architecture practice with a diverse portfolio of award-winning architecture. Nature informs all their design, as symbols through weather, landscapes and biomimicry.



“Mars in Marble” combines the solid materiality of the stone with the delicate ethereality of light to celebrate the extraordinary beauty of Macael marble.

The outward faces of the cube appear plain with a matt finish, as though they remain untouched. An innovative light source contained within the hollowed-out cube reveals the delicate tracery-like patterns on the inside of each face.

The patterns are 3D reproductions of high-resolution images of Mars that have been milled out of the stone by a robotic arm, with each face of the cube containing a corresponding view of the planet. A composite image of Mars is therefore revealed on the outside, using shadows and the translucency of the carved stone.

Foster + Partners is an award-winning British architectural design and engineering firm which pioneers an innovative and sustainable approach to architecture and urbanism around the world.



This approach to the Carved in Stone brief of ‘Life on Mars’ looks at people´s dependence on the computer age and our future living symbiotically with Artificial Intelligence.

The marble represents the confluence of binary code and ancient Chinese puzzles.

It consists of three spheres of increasing size encased within a cube. The spheres rotate freely within each other and within the binary cube shell. The spheres represent the gyrating core of future propulsion and the rotating molten rock beneath the mantle of the Martian surface.

Marble, carved, cut and formed to symbolise the digital-analogue future and visually translates the brief of the stone age to the space age.

Ian Ritchie leads this original and influential architectural and design practice based in London which since its inception has received global recognition for its subtly elegant, innovative, exceptionally individual and environmentally intelligent projects.



“The Chasm”. The concept behind the sculpture explores the idea of dividing a whole and being at one with its possibilities. The intricacies of the internal face are inspired by the cell structure of a tree and contrasted against the simplicity of the overall form.

The sculpture uses as much of the original material as possible – “a nod to our responsibility to be sustainable” - and the internal face provided the canvas for the artisan craftsman.

Cartwright Pickard is a research-led practice with over 20 years of experience in the design of inspirational places to live, work and learn. They have an integrated approach to architecture, technology and construction that delivers the best possible results for clients, building users and wider society.




"We stand at the edge of the second age of space exploration and it is time to consider the possibilities of what life on Mars might be like? Hugh Broughton Architects have proposed a Helmet which reflects a habitat nestled within a Martian landscape recently explored by NASA's Curiosity Rover.

Hugh Broughton Architects' experience designing buildings for remote and extreme environments has informed our understanding of the challenges that an off-earth settlement would face.

Hugh Broughton Architects is one of the established talents of contemporary British architecture with a portfolio of high quality and elegant designs spanning the cultural, science and educational sectors with a particular expertise designing projects in remote locations.