Selecting the perfect hard landscaping materials for train stations can prove to be a tricky task for landscape architects, with a number of factors to consider as part of the design and specification: from modern colour palettes to ease of maintenance in high density areas.

Here we compare and contrast the key considerations when specifying materials for these types of locations using two Hardscape projects to bring it to life: Kirkstall Forge, Leeds and King’s Cross Station, London.

Kirkstall Forge Station, Leeds

Kirkstall Forge station is one of the latest additions to Leeds’s transport hubs, situated six miles from the city centre. Away from the hustle and bustle of the city, when it came to specifying hard landscaping materials, the high density of the stone wasn’t as vital a consideration as it would be for city centre stations. This allowed the landscape designers to be slightly more experimental with the product selection.

With this in mind, the main materials specified were a Dutch duo of  Kellen Sferio (Pearla Bianco) and Neland Clay (Siena, Auraton and Basalt colour mix).

Neland Clay paving is known for its high flexural strength, and its diverse range of durable, experimental colours. In fact, one brilliant trait of clay is that if the pavers ever start to look worse for wear, they can be ripped up and then just turned over and laid down again. This is because they are laid on sand so there is no loss of colour, making it extremely cost effective – it doesn’t have to be replaced by new material.

For an up-and-coming area like Kirkstall Forge, Clay and Kellen were the perfect choice as they complemented the surroundings to create a welcoming environment. The refreshingly bright colour scheme helped to create stand-out landscape design, and the materials are very flexible in terms of dimensions. For example, there is an opportunity to lay clay in a herringbone pattern, if needed.

Hardscape worked alongside landscape architects Planit-IE to create this contemporary paving scheme which has helped put the new Kirkstall station on the map.

King’s Cross Station, London

King’s Cross was officially re-opened in 2013 by Boris Johnson, who was then Mayor of London. In fact, Johnson even laid the final slab of paving himself, thus showing how significant this mega transport hub regeneration scheme was for the city of London.

A staggering 70,000 people an hour is estimated to pass through King’s Cross station in contrast to Kirkstall Forge, which saw roughly 94,356 passengers use the station in a whole year between 2016 and 2017. Of course, with higher levels of footfall, the selection of materials were chosen with different priorities in mind.

Hardscape supplied hard landscaping materials including Crystal Black granite and SPI granite paving, Royal White granite kerbs and Crystal Black granite cladding, plus copings to the rotunda structure’s vents and bespoke benches for the concourse. In contrast to the Clay paving used in Leeds, Kobra and Crystal Black granite were laid in rigid, large dimensions to provide the capability to deal with high density. The designers also took into consideration that granite is one of the easiest to clean using a high-pressure jet wash – a key consideration for such a high footfall area.

The creation of a new King’s Cross Square presented one of the most exciting urban challenges facing London and its completion brought a grandness and old-world charm back to the heart of the capital. Similar to Kirkstall, the surrounding area and aesthetics of the paving would have been a key focus for landscape architects Stanton Williams when designing the scheme back in 2010.

In conclusion, a number of factors must be considered before choosing the right paving material for a certain type of station. Smaller, outer city stations may have more scope for landscape architects and designers to be slightly more creative and flexible with their dimensions, with Kellen and Clay certainly offering that. On the other hand, bigger inner-city stations have to allow for high density and ease of maintenance. Therefore, granite is typically used at large stations and this can also be seen at Birmingham New Street station, which boasted 20,000+ m2 of the material.

At Hardscape we have the flexibility in our diverse range of materials, as well as the supportive design consultation, to suit the demands of the landscape – whether that be miles outside of a city, or right in the heart of a bustling capital.