New Ideas : New Materials in Landscape Architecture.

So it begins!

It was great to get on the “big train to the big smoke” on Monday.  As I dragged my suitcase through the streets of Wigan towards the train station, my usual penchant for garden design observation kicked in.  I began to take in the good, and not so good gardens and landscape architecture within the public spaces around town.  I needn’t have been too concerned with this, as what lay in store for me was something far more exciting. The London College of Garden Design are hosting the “Spring Info Burst : New Ideas : New materials”


Giles Heap – CED Natural Stone

The first part of the evening was hosted by Giles Heap of CED Natural Stone  Giles spoke passionately about the history, geology and usages of natural stone within the British landscape architecture and garden design sector.

His enthusiasm and knowledge on all things stone was infectious, and his advocation of specifying stone for garden design from British quarries was refreshing.

As a landscape designer this has been an issue that has been neglected through recent years due to the cheap importation of foreign paving stones. Aside form the obvious ethical issues in importing stone from foreign quarries, there is huge environmental cost of importing heavy materials across the World.

The loom of Brexit and the trend towards vernacular, low mileage materials will only boost the need for home quarried stones.  British stone is generally much more attractive and oddly uncommon in comparison to Asian paving stones.

Giles went on to discuss some of the great work CED are achieving, bringing stone to the market from newly discovered quarries up and down the UK.

Some of the new types of stone CED re bringing to the industry are truly mind blowing. Scottish examples include;  Scottish Green Schist, Caithness paving and Grampian granite.

The difficulties in  bringing the “schist” to market was evident within Giles’ presentation.  This only served to highlight his company’s dedication to bringing classical and beautiful British stone back into Landscape architecture and design market, no matter how difficult.


Ian Hunter – Materials Council.

Ian’s charismatic charm was evident as he was opening his vast array of samples from a battered suitcase. He is very much the “Willie Wonka” of architectural materials,  and his presentation made me feel like I was being taken around the factory with the other winners of the “golden ticket” for this unique and exciting seminar.

Ian’s background is in architecture, and he worked in Material research for Foster and Partners which ideally places him at the forefront of such wizardry.

His consultancy “the Materials Council” is now at the forefront of materials specification for architects and design professionals alike.

They are best known for working with Conrad Shawcross on the Optic Cloak, and have worked at the Nike headquarters on 5th Avenue.

Sintered Stones.

A fabulous reformed stone  material called “Lithos” from Lapitec, is a sintered stone which is “fired” without melting, and is like a super improved version of porcelain. The product has a smooth finish and would not look out of place in a a high end outdoor kitchen.


Durable non- durable timbers.

Durable non- durable timber was the next product to be explored. We discussed the merits of Kebony which is in fact a treatment, much like Accoya. These timbers are treated with what is basically a vinegar like substance which gives it a huge amount of longevity and durability in landscape architecture and design.



Waney Edged Timbers.

Waney edged timbers are another exciting development. Rather than having timber joints running in straight lines, this product mimics the natural progression of a waney lap. This creates beautiful curved joints throughout timber cladding and decking. The product is designed and manufactured by CNC machine, and comes to site as a “large puzzle” to be assembled “by numbers.”




Timber terrazzo.

Timber terrazzo  uses the offcuts from high-end timber installations to create a bound and solid surface, perfect for kitchen surfaces and cladding.   It is a sustainable way of using waste products from industry to reintroduce into landscape architecture and design.

The trip to London further cemented my thoughts on “extrospective influence” and how important it is to get outside and be influenced. This is key to a designer’s development in any discipline. You can read more about this here.

These examples are just a few of the exciting new materials available to design professionals.   I look forward to publishing a further dedicated / detailed article to new and exciting materials very soon. So watch this space.






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