Most Chelsea gardens include a water feature, and ours is no exception. In our case the main aim is to add a sense of calm and tranquillity whilst also bringing a sense of movement to the space. As you reach the end of the paved area of the garden, a shallow film of water below the pavilion will be constantly running away from you whilst water will also flow down the rear wall of the pavilion, evoking a feeling of descent and ascent at the same time
We recently paid a visit to Bamber Wallis, water feature genius, who is helping to design and construct the water feature, alongside Ben at Water Artisans.
The aim was to establish what was technically possible and to explore how the water would move across and over the surfaces to deliver the atmosphere we are looking for. Bamber explained how our original idea to have a smooth surface behind the falling water on the pavilion wall might not be visible enough and wouldn’t add to the sense of movement we were trying to create. A more textured surface would allow air to get behind the water, providing more animation to the water which in turn catches more light.
He showed us something he’d been working on, which was a textured concrete sheet made from a cast of the beach at West Wittering. Bamber had taken a cast of the sand as the tide went out, turned that into a latex mould and then cast that into concrete. This captures the memory of the tide and its natural organic shapes and will animate the water as it flows down it.
Not only is this a practical solution to the challenge of how to create natural movement, we love that it has been done by encapsulating a single moment in time and is something that will be completely unique. This ephemeral quality resonates with the gardens overall concepts. Three of these casts will be installed on the pavilion wall.
We tend to find that as a Chelsea garden evolves from the design to planning to construction phases, details start to emerge that weren’t necessarily part of the original concept. In the case ofTranscendence, a number of different elements will all share that theme of capturing a moment in time, or beautiful imperfections and irregularity tying in with some of the garden’s more central themes about the journey through life and how varied it is. The horizontal element of the water feature also references these imperfections, we plan to use slabs cut from the top of limestone blocks where the top surface will have a natural, uneven texture over which the water will gently flow and bubble.