Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Point Grey Foreshore - Part Four

Okay, one more post from this short stretch of beach. The seawall immediately west of Volunteer Park is very new and has gotten a lot of attention, in part because it is so unique and so visible.

As sculpture, or architecture, I thought it was pretty cool. If seawalls are going to get built, it would be nice to see them designed to be beautiful as well as functional. So many are ugly or boring or uninspired or cookie cutter. Sort of like strip malls and eastern-bloc apartment buildings. This is different.

The seawall is constructed from Corten (COR-TEN) Steel, an alloy intended to oxidize rapidly, creating a rust coating that doesn't require painting. It's been around for a long time and has become a favorite of some architects and artists who like its raw look and functionality. 

For more on this seawall, including about its designers and builders, check out:
ShapedScape 2014

Houzz: Metamorphous

When this was first brought to my attention earlier this year, one of the claims was that it would naturally degrade over time. I understood this to mean that it was really just a temporary structure - which is sort of a neat idea with seawalls, as long as they don't just get replaced by something else later on. Given that the recommendations for Corten Steel suggest not using it near saltwater (because it will corrode even faster), I guess this adds weight to the argument that this is a "temporary" installation. But what happens as it breaks down over a few decades? Does the steel begin to develop ragged holes as the rust stains gradually spread down the beach? Or is the whole process completely benign?

For the time being, the wall is sufficiently far back that only the highest tides will reach it. But if this shoreline is eroding - and we must assume that it is - there will be less and less beach in front of the wall over time. The boulders placed on the beach (we saw this approach used in West Vancouver a few posts back) may trap some sediment, but they don't really change the underlying processes of rising sea level and chronic erosion.

No comments: