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Porphyry and the Terminated Vista

Porphyry pavers are used to enhance the experience in many examples of places with a terminated vista. While there are many other elements present, which lead to the special experience of these views, the stone paving lends permanence and visual memory to these elements.  An alley in Portland, Maine; a street in Paris; or a plaza in Mexico; there is something special added to the scene with stone pavers.

One principle of great design is the “terminated vista,” a landscape or building at the end of your line of sight that sort of takes your breath away.  If you keep your eyes open the world is full of small, pleasant, and surprising sights.

 

A Terminated Vista is not your loss of view out the window or out to sea or whatever, at least not as a planning term; but it is about something that intervenes visually to stop the eye as it looks forward through a vista – such as at the end of a path, road, or street.

 

Basically, “vista” refers to your view as you look down a street or corridor. “Terminated” refers to any building, object or feature serving as the focal point and blocking the view from extending further.

Think about when a street angles or dead-ends into another street. For the person heading that way, that spot becomes a focal point of greater prominence, so an urban designer would tell you its building should reflect that. Depending on the importance of the street, the parcel might be suited to an important civic building or monument. Downtown or on Main Street, it might be a church or prominent commercial anchor. Or, in an everyday context, the occupying building should simply make a small architectural nod to its surroundings, noting that it recognizes its enhanced role in community aesthetics and wants to contribute.

According to designers, there’s a variety of reasons for doing this. In their handy compendium, “The Smart Growth Manual,” authors Andres Duany, Jeff Speck and Mike Lydon, explain:

“Street networks that include staggered intersections, deflections, and slight curves improve spatial definition and orientation by creating memorable visual events .. When a street vista terminates on a building, it should reciprocate by placing a special architectural element on axis.”

This, they assert, speaks to community values, contributes to the cues of basic navigation, and reduces car speeds.

They make our communities more interesting, and interesting places engage people at a more intimate, emotional level. When we talk of making places more pedestrian friendly, we often focus on sidewalks, road geometries and diversity of destinations but it’s less often that we also focus on delight — the visual candy that engages our senses as we travel from point A to point B.

At the end of the day, you can build complete streets that provide safe, walkable destinations and amenities but if the surrounding environment’s a bore then it’s a bore and walkability suffers as a result.

 

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 offers surfaces of various finishes and mixed colorings, tending towards tones of grey, gold, violet and red, depending on where it is extracted.  –  www.milestoneimports.com