A huge concrete water reservoir rank is not what you’d normally expect to see in a British Columbia rainforest. So how does one go about softening the stark contrast of concrete construction and natural beauty? That was the challenge Metro Vancouver faced when their newest water reservoir tank was built near the entrance to popular hiking trails in North Vancouver.

The creative landscape architects at CWMM Consulting Engineers and Ration Architecture answered the question with a concept of a 3-dimensional tree mural applied directly to the exterior of the round reservoir tank.

The mural was designed to have multi-layered, multi-coloured trees constructed of concrete that would stand up to the harsh elements and the test of time.  In addition, the mural had to be constructed so that trespassers wouldn’t be able climb it; no footholds or finger holds could be present – just smooth surfaces.

Torrent worked hand-in-hand with the architects and engineers to design the bonding methodology and then create the desired 3-dimensional aspect integrating various shades of green into the final appearance. The bonding challenge was answered by designing and detailing hook bars which combined with conventional rebar reinforcing to create a strong bond with the reservoir surface. The individual trees were designed to employ varying degrees of thickness and alternate shades of green to add depth and visual appeal to the mural.

Finally, it was ultimately agreed that colouring the concrete mix prior to application was preferable to painting and would yield the long-term, low maintenance results the project planners were looking for. Torrent mocked up samples of the different shades of green concrete required and then pre-fabricated the outline of the trees prior to installation.

The tree outlines were then transported to the site and shooting took place over several days. This multi-day scheduling was employed to allow for the variations in thickness of each of the trees and to ensure there would be no cross-colour contamination of the subtly different shades of green concrete.

The final result of this inspired creativity is a beautifully interpretive design that helps blend the concrete nature of the reservoir with the natural beauty of the rainforest setting. Shotcrete application technology and Torrent’s creativity allowed the Metro Vancouver design team to envision and create a structure that fits more harmoniously with its surrounding environment.

Torrent Shotcrete. More wall. Every day. And sometimes, more trees too.