Based on my recent trip to Europe I have compiled a few observations of individual countries use of hardscape. The movements of intricate work that flows organically with its busy surroundings, and some symmetrically intertwined; All its unique applications which can inspire your next outdoor space project!
Tiles called ‘azulejos’ are everywhere in Portugal. They decorate everything from walls of churches and monasteries, to palaces, ordinary houses, park seats, fountains, shops, and railway stations. They often portray scenes from the history of the country, show its most ravishing sights, or simply serve as street signs, nameplates, or house numbers.
Although they are not a Portuguese invention (the use of glazed tiles began in Egypt), they have been used more imaginatively and consistently in Portugal than in any other nation. They became an art form, and by the 18th century no other European country was producing as many tiles for such a variety of purposes and in so many different designs. Today, they still remain a very important part of the country's architecture.
Adobe, is the Spanish word for mud brick, a natural building material made from sand, clay, water, and some kind of fibrous or organic material (sticks, straw, and/or manure), usually shaped into bricks using molds and dried in the sun. Adobe structures are extremely durable, and account for some of the oldest existing buildings in the world. Compared to wooden buildings, adobe buildings offer significant advantages due to their greater thermal mass, in hot climates, but they are known to be particularly susceptible to earthquake damage.
Buildings made of sun-dried earth are very common in Spanish cities, and the applications of the clay brick used for flooring, trim and even helped inspire the incorporation of clay tile roofing. Which today has become synonymous for the ‘Spanish’ hacienda style of design.
The use of stone is prominent in a city like Paris, individual cobble stones laid out on streets, decorating a building façade and in prominent monuments like the Arc de Triomphe and the beautiful bridges along the Seine River. Stonemasonry is one of the earliest trades in civilization's history. People learned how to use fire to create quicklime, plasters, and mortars, and used these to fashion homes for themselves with mud, straw, or stone, and masonry was born.
Churches are the oldest intact buildings in the city, and show high Gothic architecture at its best; Notre Dame cathedral and the Sainte-Chapelle are two of the most striking buildings in the city and display amazing stone work and craftsmanship. The beauty is all in the details, the carvings and joints of every piece of laid stone describe the essence of the city and the mesmerizing streets of the city of lights.
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