Designing an inner city that caters to people, cyclists, public transport and motor vehicles is not as easy as one might think. ‘An Accessible City’ is part of the Christchurch central city rebuild plan, and has been a major flagship project for Ōtākaro (tasked with delivering Crown-led anchor projects and precincts in Christchurch). This five year long project has been a complicated one but, with the downtown area now 99% complete and featuring nearly 10,000m2 of Firth pavers from the PaveWare® range, Rob Lawry, Senior Landscape Architect from Jasmax says that it has definitely been a success.
“We started working on this project when the design contract was commissioned back in 2014,” says Rob. “We were part of a very collaborative group called ‘City Sense’, made up of a range of specialist consultants working together under the same roof. We started to conceptualise through what was a very complex piece of work.”
Rob says that streetscapes form the overall fabric of the city but that there had to be consistent language as to how the pavements and services were treated across the board. “Between Ōtākaro and Council the award winning Streets and Spaces Guideline was established describing what could be used and where,” says Rob. “Another part of our ethos when specifying was that we aimed to use locally sourced and made products. It became pretty clear that Firth’s PaveWare® range met the majority of the paving needs. Firth is just down the road which was another big driver in the decision making as we also aimed to support local industry.”
“I have worked very closely with Firth and Canterbury Concrete on numerous occasions over the years and have a good understanding of their products which assisted with the design when defining places for vehicles and people. We were able to use the Firth Holland® Set’s (200(L) x 100(W) x 80(D)mm) to form what we call the ‘Infrastructure Strip’ where the majority of light poles, street furniture and kit is placed. These pavers can easily be lifted when repairs or their removal is required as and when the street requires change.”
Then Rob says there are the movement zones - areas used by people, bikes and skate boarders - where Firth’s Piazza pavers (400(L) x 200(W) x 80(D)mm) were laid. “This combination of products helped clearly define these movement corridors.”
Another design detail was to utilise the varying finish options for the Holland Set pavers to break up the finished look and feel, and to add interest. “We didn't want just a flat finish for all of the product. That's why we used a combination of a rougher and smoother finishes. We specified honed units for 30% of them which were laid in amongst the Bush Hammered pavers which creates a dappled light effect across the top of those surfaces making them a lot more interesting.”
“Before we even got to the laying of the pavers we did a lot of prototyping and tested samples of different colours of Honed and Bush Hammered units out at the yard which Firth were very happy to help us with,” adds Rob.
Josh Hastie, Operations Manager from Trademark Paving, says that this was the largest inner city project they have been involved in. “Because of the size and complexity of the project we worked very closely with Downer who were the main contractor and of course Firth re the supply and delivery of all of the pavers. This was another really good job completed between Firth and TradeMark as we know each other well. We had a fairly good run on this one and are very happy to see these areas of our city completed and looking great.”
“This project was a long one but I don't think major projects in the downtown of any city happen without some disruption. It was necessary so we could achieve the visually appealing, safe city centre which is more accessible and pedestrian-friendly with new public spaces with paved boulevards running through to cafes, bars and shops. As people have adjusted to the changes we have received some very good, positive feedback.”
For industrial applications please check with Firth for vehicular traffic loadings.
The range includes:
Landscape Architect: Jasmax
Engineers: AECOM Engineering
Contractor: TradeMark Paving
Location: Downtown, Christchurch (Manchester Street between Lichfield and Armagh)
Products: Firth PaveWare® Commercial Paving: