The design brief:

Design entrance and side gates deserving of their environment. Creating an exciting entrance to the farmstead – for the home-owners and their visitors.

Design principles in action

Wabi Sabi design:

  • Rustic charm, character and things that are unique
  • Handmade rather than mass market
  • Accepting, then celebrating, imperfections

The project in focus

Southern Italians use COR-TEN in a variety of ways. Including as cladding for buildings and in commercial and domestic architectural applications.

Charlotte is captivated by the patina of the metal. This material was the perfect choice to convey the dialogue for the project. The farmstead is a simple place and demands a simple pallet of materials.

It was a practical choice too. The climate is predominantly damp and wet in this region. It needs a robust and protective material that would stand up to all that nature would throw at it. Something that would stand the test of time.

COR-TEN is a high-strength, low-alloy, weldable structural steel. It owes its weather-resistance to its incredible, protective oxide coating. After a period of time, it seals its surface against further corrosion.

When this material gets damaged it has a unique ability to heal itself. There’s a continuity of protection and stunning aesthetic change. And the greatest benefit of using this metal? It requires no maintenance!

The surface oxidation takes around six to eight months. You can see from the installation image that the gate hadn’t yet oxidised. Over time it gradually undertakes this process, which is fascinating to watch.

Wabi Sabi design in focus

“Wabi-Sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete. The antithesis of our classical Western notion of beauty as something perfect, enduring and monumental.”

Leonard Koren

Charlotte used Wabi-Sabi as inspiration for the drive gates and side gates on one of her projects. Focusing on organic, textural imperfections as a design feature.

The natural heritage of the old farmstead saw Charlotte look to its varied textures and colours. And to those of the natural landscape surrounding the beautiful old buildings.

The rich autumnal browns of the fell bracken and the copper tones of the beech hedge in winter. The patina of the corrugated iron on the old barn. The unique shades of the stones that form the main barn.

Practicalities in design

The success of this gate is its simplicity, and scale. It is oversized to accommodate the delivery of materials for the rest of the project. But it’s also huge because that grounds it in the context of the large buildings it protects.

Because of the sheer size of the gate, it required a frame. The frame is made up of four panels, each with bevelled but simple edges. The property name is laser cut into one of the panels. A different type of steel backs the shadowy gap to highlight the letters. This steel will always retain its silver appearance.

The pillars either side of the gate are again oversized, acting as sentinels. An oversized letterbox to the rear of the gate eases mail collection. It gives the gate yet another function.

Combining old and new

The gate design looked to the past for inspiration but has a foot firmly in the modern-day. There’s a sophisticated automation and entry system built-in.

There’s a further COR-TEN side gate for pedestrian access to the country lane. This smaller gate echoes the design of the larger drive-way entrance gate.

The addition of the gate now provides sanctuary and privacy from the outside world. And the COR-TEN has become a design reference point for the rest of this farmstead project.