Okanagan Architectural Bloopers, Part 4: Plastic, Imitation and Gravity

Basalt rock breaks into angular shapes, of differing dimensions, according to how it cooled, This is pretty standard for the North Okanagan:

These rocks roll naturally down slope and collect in hollows and gullies. The result is that they make roofs that shade seasonal streams, delivering it to plantations at their bases and sheltering many animals along the way. They also are happy places for lichen, as you can see, and as they are open, they collect heat on their surfaces, while remain cool, with good air flow below. All that has been on this blog before, but the following is new!

The 21st Century Human Version

See that? The slope is steep, but, you know, you want water to drain from the end of your driveway, and what better than black plastic to make that happen, eh! The erosion on the right below, below the house, shows why controlling water might be a good thing on such a slope. It doesn’t suggest to me that the plastic, or the rocks, are a good idea, What will keep them up?

In Contemporary Canadian culture, this is called creativity.

I’m guessing the plastic is to protect the soil and the rock is to slow down the flow. You might ask, hey, why not a pipe, and it would be a good question, except, you know, maybe you want someone to buy the lot next door and fill this bank in so it’s no longer your problem. This is just, like, temporary, you know, something to sell the house by giving it a modern look. However, the image below shows something more permanent.

More creativity!

See that? right below the foundation for the posts for the balcony, the gravel wall is very nearly vertical. It will be exciting to see what they intend to lay on top of that to stabilize it and keep those foundations solid. It’s also interesting that the vertical wall has been painstakingly stepped, in little ledges of gravel that can hold about ten layers of bricks, one brick deep and just off vertical. Even more interesting, this is a view wall,. It looks straight down Okanagan Lake, to the mountains beyond. Not many windows! Not much view. The house is oriented to the right, also a view wall but over the city. Instead of facing the lake, it faces the rising sun. Seemingly, the house is built to avoid the hot summer afternoon sun. Which all suggests a few questions: why build on this lot in the first place? Why have a view when you have to hide from it? Why build a house so much too big for its lot that instead of building it down to ground level and using a terrace to shade the lower two floors, keeping both view and coolness, you build it on a vertical pile of gravel instead, and then tumble rocks down the slope to hold it magically in place?

I mean, since the neighbour to the right is having issues, and all?

Isn’t the basement insulation coming off now?

And for this complete arrogance we replaced a 5,000-year-old grassland, the last in the Okanagan? Apparently so. A friend asked recently, “How would the world be better if there had not been residential schools? What difference would it have made?” Well, for one, we wouldn’t be looking at this. The disrespect for people and land would have ended long ago. That’s no small thing.

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