Spotlight: An Extraordinary Hill Side Installation

Written by Barkman Concrete Published on May 6th, 2022

Nestled between the mountain ranges of British Columbia, the picturesque Okanagan Valley is known for its serene landscapes and breathtaking views. This means landscapers are met with the challenge of honouring the natural landscape with intelligent designs that work with the existing terrain rather than against it.

Tim Valerioti was faced with this challenge. Owner and operator of Hampton Pools and Landscape, Valerioti was tasked with constructing a custom pool and landscape that fit naturally into the sheer granite cliff side of West Kelowna. Valerioti and his team set aside 4 months to complete the project in time for a wedding. But timeliness was the least of his worries. In Kelowna, builders need to abide by strict stipulations to get development approval. Valerioti’s description of the project as “difficult” is an understatement.

The Process and Challenges

“As the project was right on the lake, we had to work with the province and the city to come up with a plan that met environmental requirements,” Valerioti explained. “Working under the Riparian Areas Regulation (RAR system), we came up with a design that provided the client with the functionality they were looking for, [while] returning the property back to a more natural state. Using the Rosetta stone was critical for us to accomplish the look the environmental engineer wanted with the structural integrity required.”

Valerioti went on to say that the client wanted a pool surround and regular retaining walls were out of the question. So, a Rosetta Outcropping wall was proposed for its more natural look to blend in with the existing rock face.

Then came the actual build, which required existing structures and walls to be removed and replaced. Machine-installed large retaining wall systems are easy to install in normal circumstances with proper access. Unfortunately, this space was sitting below an 80-foot natural granite face cliff, which created a challenge for this process.

Moving tools and supplies to and from the construction site was a monumental task.

“It took a month of deconstruction and hundreds of construction bags to move all the material off the shoreline by barge. Then, it all had to be unloaded at the docks and taken to appropriate dumping sites,” Valerioti recalled. “Product and tools had to be barged in off the lake, including the skid steers and excavator required to install all the elements.” Old railings, stairs and existing structures had to be carefully demolished and properly barged out for recycling, making sure nothing fell into the water.

New Design Ideas

Barkman’s Rosetta Outcropping wall was stacked and placed to retain soil for planting and provide a veneer for the custom-made infinity pool. Valerioti said that the actual Outcropping install took 20 days. “Installing Outcropping was a bit challenging in such a small space. The walls themselves went up quickly. It was the coordination of [the blocks] to the site and in the right place that took the extra time,” he said.

Rosetta Irregular Steps in Copper Canyon.

Another impressive aspect of the project is the never-before-seen floating staircase using Rosetta Irregular Steps. Extra care was taken to handcraft the steps and maintain the seamless, natural aesthetic of the landscape without building up the base as would traditionally be done.

“I came up with the floating stairs idea, but it was my team that pulled it off. I wanted the main pool deck to seem to be floating,” said Valerioti. “For that to be accomplished, I needed the steps to be open tread. As we were not permitted to use metal stairs, we used the Rosetta Irregular Steps to match all the walls going in. At night I wanted the steps to glow, so we spaced them to allow the light to come through at night, giving it the floating feel. It was very difficult as it all had to be put in before the upper deck was built, so a bunch of design and site engineering had to happen to pull it off. In the end, it worked out great.”

Rosetta Outcropping is used as a retaining wall and a veneer for the custom-made infinity pool.

All things considered, this site illustrates stark design challenges that called for innovative solutions. Hampton delivered those solutions. “We use Rosetta as an element of design and engineering that works well with the natural rock landscapes of the Okanagan Mountains. Overall this project allowed us to use the product in unique ways to provide all parties involved with what they were looking for.”

And yes, everything was done in time for the wedding, Valerioti happily remarked. “In the end, it was a successful and spectacular endeavour with happy clients, a great wedding, and a very unique landscape that already is a stop for local boat sightseeing.”

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