The Tide Stones are 60 bespoke cast-concrete outdoor furniture pieces for public use under and around The Tide linear park on Greenwich Peninsula. Inspired by their location adjacent to the Thames, local river pebbles have been used as aggregate.
There are four different form types – all circular cylinders with gently bulging sides – each with slightly different proportions. These can be combined in a variety of ways to create clusters for sitting, lounging, eating, and standing. The top of each concrete cylinder has been cut and ground smooth to reveal the large pebble aggregate contained within. The sides are left rougher and coated with a protective varnish. The slightly bulging shape has a double reference – both echoing the shape of a river pebble, and suggesting inhabitation through a kind of exagerated entasis.
The design concept was to create furniture that didn’t immediately look like furniture. Abstract and autonomous, the objects have a strong presence even when unoccupied. On cold or grey days we wanted to avoid the look of a field of empty chairs. On their own, the objects visually accumulate into spatial ensembles, clusters of similar but different objects – variations on a theme.
There are four different concrete mixes, two with a light grey cement matrix and two with a light pink cement matrix. Four different mixes of river pebble aggregate – in varying sizes and colors – have been used to create a subtle mix of different tones and textures.
The furniture pieces are modular and can be moved around the site using a special mobile hoist – reconfigured for special events and changing needs. However, they are heavy and durable enough to remain outside year-round.
The furniture was fabricated by Mass Concrete in southern England. Fiberglass moulds were created based on the four different shapes. The weight of each piece was reduced by creating polystyrene coffers, but maintaining at least 100mm of concrete on all sides. The finishes are based on a wet-diamond polished top surface and ex-mould smooth cast sides. For durability and stain resistance, all of the pieces were then sealed with DRYTREAT ‘StainProof,’ impregnating sealer.