|Posted by Author on March 18, 2014 at 9:30 PM|
Images: UGArdener and Terence Faircloth
Separating public from private, safe from unsecured, and "mine" from "yours," fences cover the planet. For millennia, humans have erected barriers for privacy, security, and the demarcation of space. Some of these barriers are rigid and impenetrable, others are less imposing and represent barely the suggestion of a boundary. By necessity, nearly all of these boundaries have a gateway: a break in the fence or wall that allows human passage. From a design perspective, that's where things can get interesting.
Image: Jonny Fez
Where we provide passage from one side of a barrier to the other, our culture tends to default to constructing a closable, latchable, and often lockable gate, but that need not always be the case. Additionally, while it may be most straightforward to create a gateway that passes through a break in the barrier, passing over or underneath are both options that should be considered.
When simply demarcating one space from another, such as rooms in a garden or property lines, it is often unnecessary to equip a gateway with an actual gate. A narrow break in a barrier offers a passable bottleneck without necessarily eroding the perception that land on one side or the other has restrictions placed on it.
Images: Pigalle, Eirlys Howard, and Dev Sherman
If an operable gate is what is desired, take a moment to consider the boundless options in form and materials. Metallic gates have the potential of preserving the greatest visual permeability, but their cold feel and clanging sound runs the risk of feeling cold, formal, and sometimes unwelcoming. Wooden gates have the opposite effects: their material, often rougher-hewn than iron or steel, is friendlier and usually less formal, but most often a more solid and visually "heavier" structure is required. Sometimes wooden gates end up as opaque as the solid doors that one might find inside a home, whether or not that was the aesthetic hoped for.
Images: Ian Harris, Federico Gori, Bryan Davidson, and S. Cholewiak
Some craftsmen offer gates that are truly expressive and can take on a life of their own. (Some more examples can be found here and here.) A gate's aesthetic should speak to the garden that lies behind it, so not every gate works with every garden. However, never let what's available on the shelf at your local hardware store stifle your creativity. Some gates can be true works of art.
Images: Ian B.C. North, Angela Marie Henriette, Rob Innes, and Ron Lute