Brick Pavers – More Exotic

This is another of those posts I went and added onto substantially, having originally produced it in 2010.

As everyone should understand by now, I am a huge fan of brick paver surfaces. I have found nothing – nothing at all – comes close to their durability. The other inherent quality brick pavers offer is simply their beauty. Well designed surfaces gain immense visual power by being coordinated by color and even texture in a landscape. And since this rather new field opened up rapidly, it has been a chore to try and keep up with all the innovations, colors, types and styles of interlocking bricks. But what a pleasant chore it is. In this post, we examine the future, taking a peek around the corner at what seems destined to emerge. At the same time, we’ll investigate what we have available at this time. I believe it is of a surprising range.

What is the future, then, of brick pavers?  Have all creative avenues been blocked owing to their new popularity or are there people out there discovering new ways of experiencing the art of driveway and Piazza construction? The answer to that touches on our personal and community expectations regarding our outdoor environments.  I am more than pleased to say that the future is very bright indeed, as can be seen in this tiny sampling relating to the possibilities inherent in the paving art.

Brick pavers have evolved to such an extent that pictures such as the one above now represent a possibility that never existed before in a non-modular form.  The freeing up of ideas based on modularity and small sectioned pieces represents amazing possibilities for the enterprising designer.

Here are some other examples of what could happen and has: The first one below was designed on a computer using musical references in a mathematical formula….”resonances”, I believe the architect mentioned. It is a visual second in time of music as it would appear on an oscilloscope. It is from a Toronto, Canada plaza outside a facility that features music. I can only imagine the contractor scratching his head over the placement of the pavers, lol. Like many architects, they design, we install.  “Figure it out and make it work.” is a common enough statement.  Just the same, it is a fascinating bit of work, beyond doubt.

Here’s your standard average serenidpitous piece of driveway reckoning, a little on the whimsical side and surely not for everyone.  I just enjoy the fantastic sort of element of it all, myself and, yes, I would use it.

Look out!  This one is a mind blower, lol, all pavers.

Aside from the whimsical, however, are other sizes and style of pavers a bit more standard, yet still interesting, allowing many different possibilities as well. These are your larger compressed concrete pavers that are also seeing wide usage any more.

This example hails from a project we undertook in Portland, Oregon at a very successful Christmas Tree farm. The owner has just successfully re-commissioned his entire home as a sun-catcher…….he drew so much solar power that he literally offered his own power up to the grid and was compensated by the local power company. He had a small outbuilding which was completely filled with marine batteries. Really interesting guy.

Never one to let any potential sun get away – especially in often-dreary Portland – we erected a small pond out front for purposes of fire protection as well as for the reflection from the Eastern and Southern Sun to bounce off the water onto his living room ceiling where he had more collectors. 😉

Now this one is just pretty, lol. I liked the mixed colors. The view out the back is awesome ….this home straddled a ridge top, offering expansive views in all directions.

As hinted in the original picture above, people such as my hero in atristic nuttery like Isamu Noguchi were long ahead of the game. That plaza at Chase Manhatten Bank in NYC is among my 7 wonders of the hardscaping world.


But Noguchi’s work in stone may be his very best. This is from his museum in Costa Mesa, Califonria.


An overview:


Back to the “somewhat normal”, lol, we have this, from a man who specializes in Labyrinths, of all things. is his website and it is well worth a gander.


This could go on. 😉 A lot of creative minds have been on this project of modernizing and making art out of the surfaces we walk on. This also occurred for thousands of years before now, dating back to Greek and Roan ruins where the gorgeous tiles and paintings drawn centuries ago last until this very day.

This ancient Greek floor below was discovered recently in Turkey, proving that humans have lavished beauty and much thought into what they walk on.


Patio Paving – Swimming Pool Part 2


(All pictures enlarge, some to huge sizes, by left clicking)

We had always been around during the construction of the pool,  The pool-makers would call and ask for back filling, once things became settled in the ground itself.  We paid a lot of attention to the future and the last foot or so of back-filling was devoted to putting in gravel and base material.  With the budget we had, this place will outlast the house by a century or so.  It could well be one of the most compacted surfaces I ever installed. I am positive it is in the 99 percentile of compaction.

So we began installing pavers around the pool.  We attended to drainage issues and found it necessary to install the drain shown protruding in the picture above.  The pavers we used were Belgarde’s “Bergerac” Pavers, an expensive but gorgeously-antiqued model, set in a random pattern.  They were also an additional inch thick!  These big beauties came in at 3 1/4″ thick, providing a huge challenge for not only our cutting apparatii (gas-powered table saw with a diamond blade) but also requiring substantial grinding for the wild number of curves.  Talk about labor intensive!

Obviously, we had other issues, such as a fire pit shown in the bottom picture.  The necessity to hand-shape curving pavers was especially intense when around boulders, as can be seen above.  The irregularities don’t seem so drastic when the boulders first get placed.  But, wow, they get intense when the finishing starts.

I am thinking the project lasted almost 2 months.  There was a lot going on in general – a water feature which was designed to appear to be supply the pool water from the front yard and a 130 foot creek, originating at a waterfall out front.  We tried to make the area behind the falls by the spa appear to be a bridge just to enhance this idea. 

At any rate, it was intense but as we neared completion and began planting, we started to see things coming together nicely.

The World Of Brick Pavers

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.)

doug20and20ed20020 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!

Cool Local Project in Louisville

As many readers know, I also do a blog for Pond And Fountain World (linked there) where I expose my long-held passion for everything “water” in a landscape and in urban environments in general – world-wide, no less. I get a refreshing look at others’ work, too, exploring the water features they have installed for home owners and businesses, locally. It’s been a treat working there. I meant what I said about how I really do get to explore the fountains of the world, the good ones as well as the bad ones! I always felt design ideas and simple human wonder take off from starting points of history and the relevant notions artists and architects provide us all. There are some absolutely amazing fountains in this world of ours, let me tell you. For example…………not many of us have one of these in their back yard-

“It’s good to be King!”  😉  (this pic from Versailles, France)

(click any image to enlarge, twice for details)


I can also concentrate fully on all the good stuff Pond And Fountain World deal in as contractors and installers of the stuff they sell – including gorgeous retail/wholesale items listed in their home page catalog and presented in full physical glory at their headquarters. There are also other set examples of the installation of naturalistic water features abounding there, complete with plants they offer as well as some pretty amazing fishies.

The people, particularly the owners, George Davis, and his lovely wife Cara, are heart-warming people with ready smiles and those nicely nervous dispositions which give them away as business people. It has been a very good relationship and I have to think they like the “Face” I am helping them present to the world. Those who work there, shipping, answering phones, helping me hugely with the Internet angle of life – such as Rich and Lynne – also do so much to make it a very cool experience.

But they take also great pains to present their “Face”, all by themselves, here at the “world headquarters” of a firm which ships out quite a few products to designers and home and business owners the world over. I have always delighted in walking there and spending time looking at their monstrous supply of gorgeous Koi –

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Looks like feeding time!  True story, actually.

I could watch  this large and gorgeous Yellow fish for days:

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Moving along now, these guys have begun a small renovation right at the entry to their premises which I particularly like. Naturally, the construction would always attract my attention, and so it is that I now pass by daily, boning up on my Espanol, taking pictures and asking questions. I honestly really appreciate what they are accomplishing.

Whereas before, the entry looked like this:

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Oops!  My bad!! This is not Pond And Fountain World!!  This is Quinn, my brother’s niece! How “pushy” of her!  😉  Well, she was thinking about going there, how’s that?

Ahem, back to the entry:

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Note the position (above) of the water feature and the composition of walking materials, then compare to this “progress picture” (below) of what is currently going on:

There’s a new surface in town!

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Needless to say, the water feature went and moved itself.

Picture 125

And here are a few later pictures, representing what I am growing to feel is some very perfect surface work:

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From a strict design perspective the polyglot mix of materials offers a retailer an opportunity to provide instances of various possibilities. The Blue Stone in the foreground may not always be indicated for everyone, especially for those with more conservative tastes. But the workmanship is the sort of thing a guy like me looks at. I love it all.

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The cutting and fitting of disparate materials gives an overall very organic tone to this project. The preciseness of the cuts and the uniform sorts of tolerances between the fits makes it something more than it probably should be.

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Pretty cool beans, all the way around. I’m a big fan of this stage of work! I know – there’s dust all over, saws operating, different languages singing out – all that stuff. Man, there’s always a ton of garbage too.

Heaven!  🙂

But for pure thrills, watching these projects come together is a highlight reel for me. I think they’re just nailing it.

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Very nice work, George, Javier and crew!

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