Streetfront yard, Ponsonby

This small project presented not only the constraint of a confined space, but the context of a heritage-listed villa - that any new work should complement sensitively. The integration of progressive design and tradition is an area that is of particular interest to us, and this small path was a stimulating opportunity to further that interest.

The previous path was a very old, mostly broken-up expanse of poured concrete, through which many small flowering plants emerged. The matrix of plants and concrete formed by the old path actually created a surprisingly good effect, with regard to establishing a good sense of separation from the street. However, its state of disrepair necessitated its replacement.

The historical layers already present on the site included an old concrete path on the opposite side of the front steps, a concrete nib wall (standing at the base of the timber fence), and the asphalt of the footpath outside of the property. We were unconvinced that most readily available paving materials would fit with this context, and as a result we manufactured our own pavers from plain concrete.

These were cast into timber moulds, thereby leaving the impression of the timber boxing material on the surface of the paver - similar to the impression left on the kinds of shuttered concrete walls that are commonly specified in architecture at present. This surface has an unpretentious texture to it, that weds it with the surrounding materials and confers some sense of age (as opposed to the very new, smooth appearance of many manufactured pavers). In this way, it has a similar feeling to some types of stone.

We chose to cast them to similar shape and dimensions as conventional cobbles - partially for the reason that we prefer that the area does not appear overtly designed (to make for a more seamless transition with the older elements of the property). Adjoining the fence, we cast a small border of concrete, from a combination of regular builder's mix and red 'McCallum' builder's mix, to relate to the McCallum concrete on the small driveway area. The resulting band plays an added role in forming a sense of separation from the street, and registers like a shadow of the old concrete nib wall.

The completed job fits in like another layer within the history of the site, and represents an example of our belief that landscape design does not need to 'wipe the slate clean' in order to achieve stimulating work.

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