Things move so fast in our world. Every day, by plying away with so many hours at the computer as I seem to any more, I learn so much which is new to me and I see such wonderful accomplishments by others. It really just blows my mind. What one would consider a very tightly-niched subject – paving materials – is frankly immense, it turns out. What has occurred over time is a stunning array of breath-taking artisan creativity, from even ancient days up to now.
I am old enough to recall a time when “interlocking concrete bricks” was a term given to either the straight-ahead ‘blocks’ of square and rather boring brick pavers or to the ‘star-shaped’, or the serrated engineered brick of the past. At the time, the revolutionary aspect of this product was in their structural properties, above all. With a PSI Rating of 8,500 PSI, they seemed the next thing to Granite itself. By using manufacturing processes which produced absolutely perfect fitting elements, the segmentation and the physical durability seemed just plain off the charts, even then. But they were not known at the time for being particularly gorgeous.
My, my, what a few years has wrought:
(left click images to enlarge)
This piece above was installed by a company entirely devoted to installing “Labyrinths”. I adore looking at their work and gladly share it with you now. Their success as an incredibly successful niche business is testified to at this website – Labyrinths In Stone – and it supplies the outermost reaches of sheer professional craftsmanship, to say nothing of their fascinating designs. Below is a somewhat “pedestrian” issue of almost “average” quality:
But these gorgeous constructions are mere reminders of what is possible. I have personally worked with products whose mere shape and color provide a stunning effect, simply by laying them down properly. Design, in these cases, means far less than simply presenting a course over which they can be seen.
Here is a favorite brick style of mine called “Bishop’s Hat” (Tan and Cream) we installed for a Reno family:
(enlarged, this looks incredible, even up close)
There are some things which – installed in the right spot – make it more than it was and maybe better than someone might have hoped. Paver technology has advanced like a rocket, from occasional patios and walkways to entire airports such as that of Hong Kong. Once again, as I have mentioned often in this blog, their innate durability, their breath-taking level of ‘hardness’ – 8500 PSI – and their amazingly engineered tight fit make them a superb choice of surface. Obviously, the ability to simply replace those ruined by stains or breakage factors in as a huge plus.
But suppliers and designers of brick also brought an “Antiquing” ability, by tumbling pavers inside sand-filled machines and prematurely aging them. “Tumbled Pavers” now represent an entire niche of their own and supply a very ‘walked-on’ appearance. Combined with media such as concrete edging, the results can be impressive:
My own constructions, for example, have led from the above to the below over the course of an ‘old favorite’ project:
(combined with the soft security lighting (7 Watts) along the edge, this very rural home had a minimum of interference with the gorgeous night skies.)
But these are the more pedestrian examples, pardon the pun. There are far more bizarre and excitingly-designed edifices out there to beguile us with, created by wondrous designers and installers, both.
Interlocking bricks can now be made as custom pieces, allowing a range of creativity that unleashes an entire new galaxy of possibilities.
Now a brick can be engineered for purposes of producing patterns in their actual laying which reveal a designer’s intent in its display of complexity or resonance with other factors.
The patterns below are seen outside the Music Conservatory in Toronto, Canada. The architect worked with a computer simulation of phonic graphs, displayed in these laying patterns, whereby the patrons cross over the very music they are entering the place to hear.
Sound wave City!
Steve, love the detail work! That’s one of the great things about the advancements in AutoCAD and other technologies, too: we, as designers, can accurately communicate our design intent to the installers (and the client) and everyone is on the same page throughout the build.
I really like the border on the walk you show. Is that poured and stamped concrete, a larger paver, or natural stone?
The next to last image – where is that? It’s awesome!
I love the detail work. Is that all natural stone or stamped concrete? You did an amazing job on the boarder. This is a job well done and speak for your craftsmanship.
Also, the large stones are well placed and look great.
Thanks, Chris. Those are tumbled bricks – custom – colored, in between stamped concrete edges.
Dave, the edges are stamped concrete, poured in place, then colored and stamped. I was thinking I had linked the complex paver construction with the boulder and holes but had not and now I’m danged if I can find it. Big mistake on my part as I always attribute any borrowed photograph to the builder/designer. I had originally run across it in a Google Search and now i cannot recall the title of the doggone search. Egg all over my face. Hey – if you run across it, tell me, lol.
Hey, Dave, the interesting Noguchi (who else, lol?) paver design is at the Chase Plaza in none other than New York City. Sending you a mail.
Hi Steve, I am impressed with how you managed to make a living out of what started as an odd job while studying. I recognise the passion and love that you shared when you did like something. When we were cutting grass on the slopes of BC Hydro with a scythe, you would imagine you were playing golf. Making everyhing into a positive experience.
Brick is a beautiful material. In the Netherlands we use it a lot for paving streets and squares. Streetmaker or streetmason is an actual profession here. It is hard on the back but there are mechanical ways of doing it these days. It is the detail that makes it special and it is easy to fix a hole. or unevenness.Keep up the good works! Dan