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Polished performance with an Italian accent

CONCRETE QUARTERLY - HARD LANDSCAPE - Marshalls is bringing to the UK a range of planters, seating and other street furniture from Italy's Bellitalia, a company particularly noted for its threedimensional polished concrete products

Marshalls has been developing its position in hard landscaping to the point where it can claim to be the UK sector's largest supplier.

It has been looking for breadth as well as quantity, distributing street furniture from others, such as Sineu. The formation of a separate company, Marshalls Street Furniture (MSF), incorporating acquisitions Woodøuse and CBBG, is a major step in this direction. The most recent move is a tie-up between MSF and Italian street-furniture maker Bellitalia, which already has installations in more than 40 countries. Marshalls has become the sole UK distributor for a selected range of Bellitalia's items, expected to grow in the future, detailed in a new catalogue. This includes benches, seats, planters, bollards, litter bins, tree protection and cycle stands.

Materials used consistently across these ranges allow designers to suite items of furniture - stainless steel, colour-coated, zinc-coated steel, copper, stone, all tied back to a core of concrete. This is where Bellitalia's location, north of Venice, in the Dolomites, comes in. Local aggregates are used to give the concretes their character, of two broad types. One is a monolithic, stone-like open texture created by sandblasting, while the other is Bellitalia's new direction, using Dolomitic aggregates, graded from fine up to around 25mm chips, and polishing the cast concrete to a finish like marble. Uniquely, Bellitalia is able to polish items such as planters in three dimensions - the industry norm is two-dimensional polishing of items such as bench seats and copings. The polished finish varies from relatively muted light-to-dark greys (with stones such as porphyry and bianco carrara) to much more varied figuring in sand/green/blue shades.

With a few projects under its belt, Marshalls is now offering delivery to UK sites within three weeks for up to 10 units, five weeks for more than 10, and six weeks for that number of polished products. Polished items are given a particular gloss, using a two-coat resin finish with a life of five to 10 years before it dissolves. Local authorities may want to apply an anti-graffiti coating, such as Margard.

Overall, the new street furniture is contemporary and clean-lined, avoiding the ofteninappropriate retro of so many UK street installations - an honest expression of its materials.

For information on Marshalls Bellitalia Street Furniture, tel 0870 600 2425, email msf. uk or visit www. marshalls. co. uk

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