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A Vancouver Waterfront Property Gets an Artistic Makeover

After being asked to reconstruct a private Vancouver seawall that had succumbed to high tides, architect Paul Sangha and his team created a wall that’s as interesting to look at as it is functional.

After British Columbia shorelines experienced king tides in 2012, a name given to the highest tides of the year, a Vancouver couple found that the water had completely eroded the shoreline bank right outside their beach side property. Looking for a solution, they reached out to Paul Sangha Landscape Architecture, who looked at the situation with a unique eye. Hoping to combat the issue of the eroded bank as well as find a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to this process, Sangha worked with oceanic engineers from Balance Environmental to build a seawall that would address these concerns. One of the many great things about the project, though, was the fact that the importance of function and artistic ingenuity were on par. Sangha envisioned a wall that was aesthetically pleasing and incredibly unique in comparison to its counterparts. As the project took shape, it became akin to an art installation—and has proven once again that the infrastructure of our concrete cities can always be as beautiful as they are functional.

The Project

Seawalls are a necessity to prevent shoreline erosion in areas of urban habitation. They work by reflecting wave energy back into the sea. However, constructed seawalls can have a negative affect on the foreshore (the area between low and high tides). In order to salvage the foreshore while still having the protective benefits of a seawall, Sangha looked toward an alternative material and design to help him out: corten steel.

Corten steel has the ability to withstand the elements; the more weathering the steel endures, the more it rusts. This rusts actually creates a protective layer that further protects the steel from corrosion. These attributes make the material a more sustainable option than concrete, as concrete erodes much quicker when hit with waves of water over time. In addition to the benefits of corten steel, Sanhga decided to imitate nature in order to create the artistic geometric design of the wall. The unique shape was inspired by the natural sandstone formations found on Saturna Island, BC, which helps dissipate wave energy and aids in preserving the deposition of sand.

 

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Sketches of the corten seawall as inspired by sandstone formations on Saturna Island, BC.

Although on private land, the structure has caused quite a bit interest from passers-by and has turned into a form of public art.

Since the installation of the corten seawall, the beachfront has seen a re-depositing of sand as well as growth of new dune grasses. Because of similar erosion to neighboring homes, other clients have asked for the corten seawall to be installed on their property as well. The wall has now spanned to cover over 200 feet along Kits and Jericho beach.

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Construction of the seawall. 

In true Vancouver fashion, the need for function combined with Sangha’s ingenuity and innovation has created a project that is environmentally sustainable, while adding another beautiful structure to the city’s landscape that can be enjoyed by all.

CREDITS

Paul Sangha Landscape Architecture
Paul Sangha
Vikas Tanwar – Project Lead
Jazmin Cedeno & Lara Davis – Design Team
Fossil Project Services– Landscape Contractors
Drabek Technologies– Metal Fabricator
Balanced Environmental – Shoreline & Habitat Enhancement Professionals
Geo Pacific Consultants LTD – Geo-Technical & Structural Engineers

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