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Of aesthetic demarcation

Of aesthetic demarcation

K. RAGHURAMAN

Apart from ensuring privacy, having a fence, probably, is the only foolproof means of defining the cut-off area to your property. But how do you enhance the visual appeal? Read on...


Roadside landscaping can provide a touch of colour, adding an appeal to the monotonous compound.

ONE OF the most important `must haves' in any site is fencing. Architecturally speaking, the word fencing is not to be confused with its dictionary meaning, which pertains exclusively to wooden or shrub fences. In architectural parlance, it includes all demarcation tools whether permanent or semi-permanent. In colloquial terms, a brick and mortar compound wall or a wooden picket fencing, or a chain link one with creepers criss-crossing its entire length are all referred to as fencing.

The most important reason to erect a fence is that it is probably the only foolproof means of demarcating your property. Even today, when you visit villages, boundaries are often defined by pointing out to a single palm tree or the bund of a tank. But in the city context, property is a more complicated issue and even if one owns acres of property it is safe to have the boundaries well defined and secured to avoid encroachments.

This brings us to the second most important reason for having a fence — security. Not only does a fence prevent encroachers from moving into your property but also effectively restricts entry into your space. Most city houses are independent units and therefore invariably have their compound walls. However, if the property is part of a large residential layout with common security, then one can consider doing away with the concept of fencing or indulging in something innovative rather than the drab compound wall.

Fencing is also seen as an instrument that ensures privacy to the residents. Whether it is a 12 ft compound wall further reinforced by a chain link fence or a screen wall within the property that restricts access to certain spaces such as swimming pool and party areas, the height and location of these structures are decided on the basis of the privacy needs of the resident.

It is only in recent times that the concept of aesthetics has `encroached' into the concept of fencing. It is this awareness that has brought with it innovative compound design. Most commercial properties opt for a wrought iron or steel design, at least on the road-facing side. Even if one has to erect a compound wall for security or other compulsions, resorting to roadside landscaping provides a touch of colour, which shields the rather monotonous compound structure.

The most commonly used fencing option is the compound wall — a concrete structure. Other options include timber, picket fences that are also wood-based, wrought iron fences and natural hedges. Of course the best designs combine these options, though the guiding rule is not to deviate too far from the base material used in the construction of the building. For example, while timber fencing is a very attractive option, to use one on city roads that are lined with brick and concrete might seem a little out of place. However, a timber reinforced gate or the use of timber over the compound wall, which has risen to a certain height, is a possible option.

The other point that `forces' one to go in for a brick and mortar option is the need for private properties to screen themselves from the road, in terms of visibility, dust and noise pollution. It is also necessary to shield the ground floor of the house from the street and therefore the front fence should be of a height that will fulfil this condition.

One other way of using more than one fencing option is to use different materials that suit the utility requirement of the fence. While such options are possible in smaller properties too, they are invariably used in the larger ones. Let me give you an example.

The Eco-Park project that is coming up in Foreshore Estate encloses a site of about 60 acres. The first fund allocation obviously and rightly went towards fencing. Not only had the land to be protected from encroachers, but also the erection of a fence helped define the nature of the entire project. In our compound wall design for the project, you will notice that there is a very high natural rock wall in certain stretches and grilled fencing in the rest. The fence has been provided on stretches that will be extensively landscaped to enable those walking and driving past, enjoy the greenery. High rock walls have been resorted to in areas that in the plan have been demarcated as wooded zones.

A closer look at the fencing design will show you that it is on the face of it, very simple. The use of straight lines creates an elegant effect, which is accentuated by the level differences within the design. The use of 10 ft high spikes that are no more than 5 inches apart will not allow even stray dogs squeeze through it or human adults scale it.

Again the use of concrete with wrought iron topping is in keeping with the character of the compounds of buildings on the beach stretch, of which this road is an extension with a short bout of dense human habitation in between.

In the next edition we will look at some fencing options and the ground realities that will help one choose one option over the other, instead of resorting to the standard five ft high compound wall.

The author is a Chennai-based Landscape Architect and Environmental Planner.

Courtesy: Property Plus, The Hindu

http://www.hindu.com/pp/2004/10/30/stories/2004103000100300.htm













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