Firth’s Aggregate Mixes Enhance Heritage Sites in the North

Firth’s Aggregate Mixes Enhance Heritage Sites in the North
July 8, 2015

The Waitangi Treaty Grounds and Kerikeri’s Stone Store in Northland are two of New Zealand’s premier historic sites, dating back to the 1800s. With both sites desperately in need of some TLC to cope with the thousands of tourists visiting each year, Paul Quinlan, Landscape Architect, was tasked with designing a landscape plan to enhance these important pieces of New Zealand’s cultural heritage.

Kerikeri’s Stone Store was built in 1832 from sandstone, local volcanic rocks and burnt shell mortar, and has been used as a trading post, library, barracks, boys’ school and operated as a general store since the 1870s. For many years traffic passed around the old store and over the river bridge, but due to recent upgrades to the area, the store is now by-passed and the old bridge and road obsolete.

5-stone-store-web 4b-stone-store-web Firth stone store
Kerikeri Stone Store – before … …after …after, highlighting Firth’s exposed aggregate concrete

“My brief for the landscape design surrounding the store was firstly to remove the road, but to keep a turning area for large coaches of tourists visiting the Stone Store every year and to enhance the area, with a minimum of new elements,” explains Paul. “The old road needed to be removed and yet I had to provide this expansive coach turning-circle in front of the store without it dominating the building itself and detracting from the area. I chose concrete for its durability and because it is very versatile with a large choice of subtle colours, tones and surface textures available. I called Firth and started discussions with them over the types of mixes we could use.”

Over many months of discussions and test mixes, Paul settled on five different aggregate, pebble and shell mixes which he had laid in curved bands across the turning circle, to visually break-up the expanse of hard surface, and to reference the old coastal margin and pedestrian linkages.

“We worked with Paul over many months and supplied lots of different samples for him to choose from,” says Baldev Kesha, Technical Engineer for Firth. “Once Paul settled on the colours, pebbles and shell additives we made a few changes to our plant at Puketona to allow these combinations of materials to be used for this project with the intention of then having the ability to create special mixes for other projects.”

“Once we had completed the Kerikeri project I was asked by the Waitangi National Trust to look at the area in front of the Waitangi Meeting house, as the grass area was not coping – it was turning into a muddy mess with the high volume of people crossing it,” says Paul.

Waitangi Marae before Waitangi-Marae-atea-3-web Treaty House
Waitangi Marae – before … … after … after, the path to the Treaty House is no longer a muddy mess!

Once again he considered concrete the best option for the cultural meeting and greeting area because of its durability and versatility. “As we had worked with Firth on the various mixes for the Stone Store we were able to use two of these mixes for this project as well” he said.

“On both projects I was very conscious of creating a look that enhanced these significant cultural sites but was practical and understated in its effect,” adds Paul. “I am very proud of the end result and the various subtle colours, textures and shapes of the concrete. Firth worked with me over many months to get the combinations just right for these special locations.”

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