Hardscape has provided contemporary landscaping materials and design expertise to help preserve the medieval history at Wolverhampton’s Princess Street. As part of a £1.6m public realm improvement scheme, Hardscape worked in partnership with City of Wolverhampton Council and Eurovia Contracting North.
The project aims to make the city centre more pedestrian friendly, attract more visitors and boost investment. Innovative technology was used to create curved showpiece benches, engraved with textual quotes from iconic figures to commemorate the area’s history. One engraving tells the story of the area, describing the wells that provided water for the medieval town of Wolverhampton, quoted from “The Natural History of Staffordshire” published in 1686 by Dr R. Plot, Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum Oxford.
Hardscape worked with the Council to design the city art features, mocking up numerous size and shape options, while offering expert advice to best suit the pedestrian area. Selected for its inherent strength and flexibility, Kobra granite was used to craft the benches and comes in a range of finishes and textures. Using intense heat on the surface, a flame textured finish was applied to the stone. Lastly, lateral black strip details were added, with a high-shine polished finish, to give a contemporary look.
A technique involving highly pressurised air, mixed with an abrasive material, was used to sandblast text as small as 2-3mm onto the benches. The modern etching process added texture and shadow, giving the illusion of two different colours.
City of Wolverhampton Council Urban Design & Conservation Officer, Jon Beesley, visited Hardscape’s manufacturing facilities in Long Marston to see the process in action and decide on the best placement for the text. Jon says: “Hardscape’s advice, support and input into the design throughout the duration of the project was invaluable in helping to transform the initial concept into reality. The showpiece benches are a real asset to Princess Street and a wonderful addition to the public realm in the City of Wolverhampton.”