All posts tagged Stone

CW Studio goes to Italy

Wednesday 26th October, 2016

Beautiful stone, gorgeous views, lovely food and delicious wine. A three day trip to Trento, Italy earlier this month with Hardscape to see a porphyry quarry was a fantastic opportunity to learn about this stunning stone.

Porphyry is an igneous rock formed through the cooling and solidification of magma or lava. The word porphyry is from Ancient Greek and means ‘purple’; localized metal ore deposits give the stone some of its many vivid rich colours. As well as being vibrant and warm in colour, it is extremely robust and is often used as setts in fan patterns and sawn for something more contemporary.

We saw porphyry in the quarry, the plant, and in a number of inspiring landscape schemes as we travelled up into the Alps. This is the only place to get true porphyry (if you get offered it from China it’s not the real thing!)

Sometimes I really really love my job.


Sitting Down

Monday 2nd December, 2013

I love sitting down. I love people watching. I love urban squares and plazas, and I love leafing through my battered copy of Whyte’s “The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces”. This book, published in 1980, shares a decade’s worth of investigations into the dynamics of urban spaces.

In Chapter 2, Sitting Space, Whyte concludes that popular plazas tend to have considerably more options for sitting than less well-used ones. In the most popular plazas the length of the sitting spaces, when added together, was equal to the length of the entire perimeter of the square. I completely agree with Whyte that choice should be built into the basic design, that any ledge can be designed to be used as a seat, and that ledges and benches are best “two backsides deep” (while 30” is good, 36” is better).

I spent a couple of hours in Leicester Square on a sunny afternoon admiring the gorgeous 200m long granite ribbon bench, designed by Burns + Nice, and supplied by Hardscape. (Leicester Square recently won the Design for a Medium Scale Public Development and the prestigious President’s Award categories at the recent Landscape Institute Awards.) The stone bench, plus appropriate ledges, add up to over half the length of the perimeter of the square. It’s an incredibly popular square for stopping and resting in and not just passing through.

I took many photos of people sitting on the bench. Not just sitting, but squatting, lying back, lying down, people in groups, people in couples, people alone, people sleeping. It’s not prescriptive. It doesn’t say two people can sit over there and three over here. It says use your back pack as a pillow and come and have a nap.


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