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Keystone Restoration Ltd : Landscaping that captures the spirit of Spain, Morocco and the Maghreb

20 October 2017

Level One uses Crema Grande slips, Bretigny limestone for the bench around the water feature and Zimbabwe Black granite for the water feature.

At the beginning of the year in the NSS report on the use of stone in hard landscaping we had a photograph of Victoria Hall at Kings Cross, London. We said then we would bring you further details later. Here, Stuart Dallen, Director of Keystone Restoration Ltd, based in Longfield, Kent, the main contractor and specialist stone contractor, fills in the details.

Victoria Hall, King’s Cross, was commissioned and is owned by the Aga Khan Development Network (AKDN). Keystone was appointed as the main contractor and specialist stone subcontractor to manage the integration of two external courtyard spaces.

Designed by VDLA (Vladimir Djurovic Landscape Architecture), each of these spaces represents a garden from a different region of the Islamic world. Levels one and eight seek to capture the spirit of the gardens of southern Spain (Level One), and Morocco and the Maghreb (Level Eight).

GDStones had been asked by VDLA to assist with the stone selection and specification. The intricate designs already developed for both levels presented a real challenge for the stone selection and GDS had to consider their frost resistance, slip resistance, aesthetic aspects and how the stones worked side by side.

The Level One space, inspired by the gardens of Andalucia, engages all the senses with a careful orchestration of composition, geometry, pattern, colour, light quality, textures, scent and sound. Water is a central element, filling the garden with its sound and reflecting the surrounding architecture like a mirror.

Here the Spanish limestone Crema Grande was specified. This is relatively new to the UK market – and is technically superb. It has excellent abrasion resistance, frost resistance, and slip resistance. It was selected to create the intricate and deliberately set out 45mm wide slips to the main paving areas, with a herringbone pattern used at the external corners to create falls to drainage channels without breaking the joint pattern.

The colour complemented the brick used extensively in the development, with the real benefit here being that the slip meets the standards in a honed finish, so no heavy texture needed to be applied. That means the colour could be retained.

GDS suggested Bretigny limestone for the monolithic bench running around the central water feature and a repeating carved Moroccan geometric pattern. This limestone has been used for more than 100 years for similar external applications in similar climates.

The Bretigny was also used for the solid drainage channels and large format paving in the seating areas.

For a complete contrast, 50mm Zimbabwe Black granite slabs were installed with millimetre precision by Keystone’s site team to create a central water feature with ‘infinity edge’ detail.

Level Eight, inspired by the courtyard gardens of Morocco and the Maghreb, uses pattern and colour to create a rich visual effect. This garden uses a traditional pattern in a contemporary manner appearing to flow seamlessly across the floor and up the adjacent wall and seating. Water remains a central element, this time in the form of a cast bronze water dish and matching drainage channels. Bretigny limestone slabs have again been used in this space for the borders and copings.

The 'wow' factor comes from the stunning hand set mosaic tiling, consisting of a repeating pattern of Bretigny limestone, Pietra Serena sandstone and Red Sunset sandstone.

Solid curved sections of hand set mosaic are located at the base of the wall, as well as three positions of the bench seat that runs the full length of the garden. The solid curved sections presented a real challenge in terms of fabrication and onsite seamless integration into the flat sections of mosaic.

This project presented many challenges, from specification and supply of materials, through the design development and setting out processes, and finally the high-end installation. However, both completed spaces look absolutely stunning, and the client team are thrilled with the results. 

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