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One Vancouver Seawall Stands Out

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

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When it comes to infrastructure meant to prevent both flooding and property damage along shorelines, large concrete structures are usually what comes to mind. But one Canadian landscape architect took a more artistic approach for a project in Vancouver, BC.

According to the website for Paul Sangha Landscape Architecture, the firm’s mission is “to design beautiful natural environments that inspire and refresh those who use them.”

Paul Sangha Landscape Architecture
Photos: Paul Sangha Landscape Architecture

Inspired by sandstone formations in the area, the color of this unique seawall was achieved through the use of Corten steel, which can be left uncoated to develop a rust-colored outer patina.

While many of the company’s projects appear to be in classic garden settings, the same vision was at work in the construction of a seawall along a 200-foot section of the English Bay coastline.

‘Also a Piece of Art’

The concrete and steel structure, known as Metamorphous, has a multifaceted geometry to it that is more visually interesting than the usual flat concrete walls erected in front of shoreline properties, leading reviewers like City Lab to refer to it as “a seawall that's also a piece of art.”

Likewise, in September, the project won an award from the American Society of Landscape Architects, whose panel of judges jury praised the project, saying “We’re desperate for a form that speaks to the 21st century rather than reruns of old ideas."

According to the firm’s project narrative, the sandstone features of Saturna Island, BC, inspired both the wall’s shape and its coloration. The color was achieved through the use of Corten steel, which can be left uncoated to develop a rust-colored outer patina.

For construction, the team relied on physical and computer models of the Corten steel. The computer model was fed into an automated waterjet cutter in order to minimize material wastage and simplify the complex forms. The resulting efficiencies made costs equivalent to a series of concrete walls, the firm said.

The work had to take tidal fluctuations into consideration when it came to construction as well. To accommodate these restrictions, all of the panels were fabricated and preassembled off site in the metal workshop. The wall pieces were cut into 20-foot segments before being transported to site for final assembly.

The Corten façade also served as a formwork shell, which was filled with shotcrete to enhance the functionality of the retaining wall. Because the steel façade is expected to disintegrate over time (75 to 100 years, according to City Lab), the concrete will also help to convey the original geometries of the wall.

Form with Function

Functionally, 13 feet tall at its western end and six feet at its eastern edge, Metamorphous, along with strategically placed boulders on the shore itself, is intended to help dissipate waves. An added benefit is that it will also allow sand to collect to build up the beach while also creating an environment for plants and sealife.

Paul Sangha Landscape Architecture

The Corten façade also served as a formwork shell, which was filled with shotcrete to enhance the functionality of the retaining wall.

According to the architect, dune grasses are becoming established and sand is slowly depositing in the area. Having always been exposed to harsh forces of water worsened by the massive concrete retaining walls along the shoreline, the area has never had a sand beach prior to this.

The new wall has been a successful effort in addressing the functional needs of a private client by stabilizing their property and creating a landscape zone, which is now effectively usable, the architect says.

As a residential project that a few adjacent homeowners joined together to fund, the total cost for the Metamorphous project (including the surrounding landscaping) came to approximately CAN$650,000 (about US$478,000).

“That’s not affordable for the average group of neighbors,” City Lab wrote, “but still, it challenges lazy assumptions about what water infrastructure has to look like.”

   

Tagged categories: Asia Pacific; Concrete; Design; EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa); Infrastructure; Infrastructure; Latin America; North America; Program/Project Management; Seacoast exposure; Weathering steel

Comment from edwin call, (12/15/2015, 11:10 AM)

very cool...


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