Towards the end of the Rochester Bridge Refurbishment Project, work will begin to remodel the Trust-owned portion of Rochester Esplanade. We’re not talking a complete transformation, but we do want to open up the footway area to make it a more inviting space for pedestrians.

In order to deliver the remodelling on time, work has already begun on the elements required for that space.

Hardscape is a UK company that provides ‘hard’ landscaping materials (eg slate, porphyry, or granite) around the world. They offer bespoke design services and can produce intricate engravings and inlaid materials to form text and graphics. Examples of Hardscape’s work can be seen at Cardiff’s Millennium Stadium; Leicester Square in London; and countless railway stations and high streets around the country.

The Trust was drawn to Hardscape for a number of reasons. As well as submitting a high quality tender, their Managing Director took a personal interest in this project. We were also impressed by their ethical sourcing position.

Scope of work
We have contracted Hardscape to fabricate and deliver nine benches for Rochester Esplanade, as well as two plaques and a series of footway studs to mark the Trust’s land boundaries and permissive paths.

The contract was signed in July and although it ends with delivery, Hardscape are keen to have a presence on site during installation. This is an attitude greatly appreciated by the Trust.

The work itself is phased, beginning with the preparation of a recommendations report, reviewing our specifications and advising on anything that could improve the final product. Once this is complete, a sample bench will be delivered to the Esplanade to be reviewed by the Trust, Arcadis, and Barker Langham. This allows us to have a real view of how the final product will look in its ultimate setting, giving us the chance to change anything that isn’t quite right.

Once the sample bench has been approved, Hardscape will produce detailed fabricated drawings for the Trust’s approval, before commencing production of the full set of nine benches.

We have already had several meetings with the Hardscape team and visits to their facility at Long Marston, near Stratford-upon-Avon. These will continue throughout the process, with our final visit being to review the finished benches ahead of delivery and installation.

The photographs accompanying this blog were taken during our start-up meeting with Hardscape. This was an opportunity for us to meet the team working on our project and to discuss the programme, contract and specification. This was particularly beneficial because emails and phone calls can be relatively impersonal, whereas face-to-face meetings are often better for getting to know who you are working with. Forming relationships this way will hopefully significantly reduce the chances of miscommunication.

That first meeting was also great to see the passion and interest Hardscape have for this project – something that isn’t always visible in a formal document.