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  • This concrete bench and water feature takes a contemporary approach to the basic tenants of wabi-sabi design. Combining the organic elements of concrete, stone, and water, the bench is the ideal spot for reflection and mediation.
  • The waterfall is generated by a recirculating pump with a cistern placed directly underneath the bench leg. PVC piping cast into the leg carries the water up to a shallow furrow running along the back of the bench.
  • The water flows over a bed of native river rock before spilling over the edge.
  • Another view of the bench. It was made in one piece using glass-fiber-reinforced concrete and a blend gray and white cement.

Designed to be the perfect spot for contemplation, this unusual precast concrete bench provides its own soothing sound effects, featuring a mini waterfall that cascades onto a bed of stone. The Zen-style bench was custom made by John Ziebarth of Turning Stone Design for Fier Studio, one of 14 contemporary dwellings featured in Atlanta’s 2013 Modern Home Tour. The 450-square-foot home, designed by Atlanta architect Dencity, is a remote, peaceful getaway from the daily hustle and bustle. While small in size, it incorporates an abundance of meditative spaces, including a lounge area, a compact library and office, a wrap-around covered deck, and a lookout roof deck perch. A stone pathway leading to the concrete bench invites people to come and enjoy the serenity of the secluded backyard.

“The main design inspiration was taken from the classic elements of a Japanese garden, with a more contemporary and local flair,” says Ziebarth. “Concrete was chosen for its ability to be customized to the principles of wabi-sabi design.”

Wabi sabi is a Japanese design aesthetic that embraces inner serenity (wabi) and an appreciation for the beauty of natural imperfection (sabi). Accordingly, Ziebarth left the concrete bench its natural state, with no pigment or special finishes added. He cast the bench in one piece using lightweight glass-fiber-reinforced concrete and a blend gray and white cement to add subtle color contrast. To create the waterfall, he placed a recirculating pump with cistern directly underneath the bench leg and waterfall element. PVC piping cast into the bench leg circulates the water up into a shallow furrow running along the back of the bench. The water then flows over a bed of native river rock before spilling over the edge, creating hypnotic sound and movement.

Although Turning Stone Design’s primary business is precast concrete countertops, sinks and fireplaces, Ziebarth is seeing greater demand for one-of-a-kind concrete architectural elements, such as wall panels and furniture. For another residence on the 2013 Modern Atlanta Home Tour, he even created a monolithic concrete mailbox.

ContractorJohn Ziebarth
Turning Stone Design
East Point, Ga.

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