Modern paths for a historic park
Parks should bring a slice of nature into city life. This is why typical urban areas covered by asphalt or pavement are avoided wherever possible. Gravel paths are considered a natural alternative. These, however, require significant maintenance and pose obstacles for those in wheelchairs and pushing walkers. All these disadvantages can be avoided thanks to polyurethane resin stone carpets such as the CONIPAVE. This innovative system meets the very highest requirements dictated by environmental protection and aesthetics, as clearly demonstrated in the historic Zvezda Park in the city of Ljubljana.
At the centre of Ljubljana lies the historic Kongresni trg, or Congress Square. The complex dates back to the Baroque era and was given its current look in 1821. Since then, surrounded by many historic buildings, it has continued to dominate the cityscape. The centrepiece to this ensemble is Zvezda Park, named for the star-shaped arrangement of its paths. The ageing tree population and selection of various architectural monuments – such as the music pavilion – lend this complex its extraordinary beauty.
The park is subject to a host of strict regulations, both in terms of monument and environmental protection. It is, therefore, surprising that, on the face of it, the paths would be given an “artificial” covering. The Slovenian company Flora sport d.o.o. has covered an area spanning 3,400 m2 with CONIPAVE. A closer look reveals that it appears more natural than the term suggests: The CONICA stone carpet comprises roughly 95% (+/-1%) natural stone granules and a maximum of 6% polyurethane resin. This resin is solvent-free and low-emission, and the binding agents are also UV-resistant. Consequently, the material remains permanently transparent. Nevertheless, the question remains: why are the paths not simply gravelled? The answer requires a closer look at the material properties. High-quality stone carpets are superior to the apparently natural material of gravel in several ways.
Safety and accessibility
Gravel paths are visually very attractive, but offer limited functional benefits. For the elderly or the disabled they can sometimes represent an almost unsurpassable challenge to mobility. Wheelchairs, walkers and even pushchairs can be moved along only with great effort. Weather-related damage, wheel tracks left behind or even harmless digging by children can mean that those less mobile among us are unable to enjoy a pleasant recreational walk in those green spaces they depend upon.
With a solid surface, though, this is no problem at all. CONIPAVE can be laid down seamlessly and guarantees anti-slip properties in accordance with industry-standard DIN 51130 from R9 to R11, depending on the type in use. In contrast to loose material, the permanent equalisation of differences in height is possible without any tripping hazards. And if a fall does occur, the risk of injury is lower: The stones are rounded and do not get stuck in the wound.
Maintenance and durability
CONIPAVE is characterised by a high level of resistance to abrasion and chemical influences. The compression strength in line with standard EN 13892-2 is in excess of 11.7 N/mm2. The system’s design means that the bonded material is much more stable than normal gravel. Even gradual inclines can be achieved. And even with medium loads such as those caused by light service vehicles and bicycles, this will not lead to tracks that need to be repaired time and again. The same applies to weather events such as heavy rain, hail or snow.
And thanks to their properties, stone carpets are very easy to clean. Pass-through cleaning operations involving sweepers or light vehicles for waste disposal do not cause any loss, abrasion or damage. This means that autumn leaves, flowers or other organic material can also be easily removed without the use of annoying leaf blowers.
Environmental compatibility and aesthetics
A far-reaching network of tree roots runs through the entire Zvezda Park. It is for this reason that it is prohibited to seal-coat any surface area. Since CONIPAVE is water-permeable, any precipitation seeps directly into the soil and so reaches the roots. Furthermore, there is no drainage needed for surface water, which in turn relieves the sewage system and reduces costs.
In addition to those technical properties described above, the paths also had to live up to certain historic aesthetics. CONIPAVE comes in a wide range of natural stone colours to meet just this need. Mixtures are also possible, but were not necessary in the city of Ljubljana. In any case, the coating appears completely natural and retains its optical properties for a long time due to the UV-resistant binding agents used. This transforms it into a sustainable investment that pays for itself not just because of its long-term durability, but also thanks to the significant savings in repairs, material maintenance, and ease of cleaning.