When landscape architects, MWA Partnership Ltd, was seeking hard landscaping products for the City Centre Garden of Reflection project in Derry/Londonderry, a standard block paving product would not suffice due to the unique design and vision for this public realm ‘Urban Pocket Park’. Tobermore surpassed expectation with the provision of Fusion block paving.
The Garden of Reflection was developed through a partnership between Inner City Trust, Derry City Council and Diverse City Community Partnership. The scheme was then funded by the PEACE III Programme through the European Union’s Regional Development fund. The objective of the project was to create an attractive area within the city that welcomes all communities.
As a public realm scheme, the landscape design for the Garden of Reflection was crucial in creating style and character. John Eggleston, Director at MWA Partnership, explained that the clients involved wanted a landscape design that would offer pleasant experiences and opportunities for meetings and events for all sides of the community, and be a lasting new inner city space that could be used for years to come.
A design concept was developed in which a circular landscape design with a ‘river’ flowing right through the pattern represented the flow of peace and the joining of communities across Northern Ireland.
John explained that a number of hard landscaping solutions were considered to achieve the river concept: “We needed a blue product to symbolise water in the design, which was quite a difficult task, given that blue hard landscaping products are not very common.
“We checked out the option of blue glass blocks but there were safety issues with slip-resistance so we couldn’t use this product across a large expanse. We also looked at sourcing clay blocks with a blue glaze but again this was not a very attractive option for a larger area.
“When the Tobermore NI Sales team presented us with Fusion block paving in the vibrant colour of Azure Blue, we had no doubt about specifying the product as we were so impressed with the striking aesthetic – the sparkling granite aggregate surface layer was stunning and we knew it would achieve the water concept perfectly whilst meeting health and safety standards.”
Fusion in Azure Blue was used with the contrasting Fusion colours of Silver and Graphite to provide the basis of the floorscape pattern, adding appropriate colour to the concept of a river theme to the tight space. The river concept runs from the ‘Youthful Stage’ at the start of the Amphitheatre, with the flowing blue paving meandering down the garden through the scheme until it reaches the ‘Old Age Stage’ at Pump Street. Along this route, the journey is enlightened by the careful integration of public artworks, enhancing the experience of walking through the garden. Minimal contemporary planting was provided due to the constrictions on access requirements.
The incorporation of Tobermore’s Fusion products created a unique, contemporary finish on site and helped achieve the client’s objective – a modern public space that represents a new dawn for the city and for Northern Ireland.
John commented on the results of the Garden of Reflection: “It was a very complex project with tight access and working restrictions but I believe the hard work has paid off as the completed project is just stunning.
“The products supplied by Tobermore helped us achieve the design vision for the garden and the addition of the public artwork has attributed to the overall quality and beauty of the scheme.”