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Porphyry Paving and Great Places

Porphyry paving and other paving stones have been designed into the unique and special paving materials called for in the creation of great new places or the refurbishment of existing places.

Discussions, plans, and designs for “Great Streets” are popping up everywhere, and the universal concepts are about pedestrian oriented space, an economically viable mix of businesses and hoped for 24/7 activity. Halifax, Nova Scotia and its Argyle Street are no different.  With a city that encounters freeze/thaw cycles and snow removal a paving stone with the qualities of Porphyry is one that has to be considered.

As the heart of one of the most vibrant entertainment districts on the east coast, Argyle Street has the potential to be one of Canada’s great streets, and a model for how people-oriented downtown’s are designed and developed.Halifax’s Downtown Plan identifies the configuration of streets such as Argyle as vital to providing a high-quality public realm to create vibrant public places that define the downtown.

The streetscape design proposed for Argyle Street embraces the shared street concept, which seeks a better balance of the needs of all road uses by improving the level of comfort and usability. The application of a shared street concept on Argyle Street shifts the balance from a car-dominant space to a truly public realm where pedestrian movement, pace and activities are given equal treatment on a curb-less street. Traffic-calming along Argyle Street is achieved through design of the block gateways, reduced carriage-way width, paving treatments, and strategic standards that shorten sight lines.

A shared street strikes a balance for street users and creates opportunity arrangement of pedestrian-scale light for creative street uses. The simplicity and flexibility achieved in the street layout accommodates a variety of activities that could occur at different times of the day, week and season. This streetscape plan does not prescribe activities, but rather offers to enhance the flexibility of the street and the changing of uses from day to night, winter to summer.

The Downtown Halifax Business Commission engaged the non-profit Planning & Design Centre to facilitate a series of public meetings to gauge residents’ and business owners’ visions for the street. Out of this process emerged a year-round shared street concept—a defining element of the revised Argyle streetscape, already a popular concept in European countries. With this plan, pedestrians and vehicles would have access to the street, although pedestrian movement would be the priority. To enhance the shared street concept, the entire right-of-way would be at one grade, making it easier for pedestrian activities to fill the space, while still permitting vehicles to pass through. A curbless street strikes a better balance for pedestrian life, with more opportunities for patios, benches and street users on Argyle. The concrete-scored pattern planned for the street will also distinguish the area visually and aesthetically from other streets in Halifax, reminding visitors they are in a unique part of the downtown core.

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Porphyry’s composition determines its high compression strength, resistance to stains, slip resistance, and high freeze/thaw ratings.  The stone is the most popular paver in Europe, and is favored for its flexibility in design, beauty, durability and low maintenance requirements. ADA Compliant Porphyry pavers are also adaptable to a permeable paving set. The stone is by far one of the most durable pavers in the world.  These beautiful materials are available from Milestone Imports.   Milestone supports the creativity of architects, planners and designers. Porphyry paving offers surfaces of various finishes and mixed colorings, tending towards tones of grey, gold, violet and red, depending on where it is extracted.  The products are available in North America from Milestone Imports.  –  www.milestoneimports.com