A Concrete Fish Story for the Record Books

Ductal ultra-high strength, fiber-reinforced concrete offered solutions to several problems. Upon award of the project, Lafarge's Precast team successfully proposed a post-installation process rather than the more typical method involving casting of profiles directly into retaining wall panels. When planning your next fishing trip, check out the big catch in the Canadian city of Calgary, where 144 trout over 15 feet long will soon be seen “swimming” alongside the daily traffic at a busy interchange. Thanks to a city program that provides funds for art on major projects, the fish are part of a unique retaining wall project built by Lafarge’s Alberta Precast Division. Artists Violet Costello and Bob Thomasson designed the fish and envisioned the wall as a river, swarming with trout.

Ductal ultra-high strength, fiber-reinforced concrete offered solutions to several problems. Upon award of the project, Lafarge’s Precast team successfully proposed a post-installation process rather than the more typical method involving casting of profiles directly into retaining wall panels. With Ductal and a new forming technique using 3-D digital modeling, the fish can be produced in various colors, shapes and textures. The bas-relief sculptures range from just 1½-inch thickness to a maximum of 2½ inches and weigh approximately 850 pounds, far less than would be required with conventional concrete. This makes it possible to mount the fish directly onto the retaining wall system. Furthermore, Ductal offers greater resistance to freeze-thaw and corrosion from de-icing salts and other substances.

Full-size models of each fish were carved from medium-density fiberboard using CNC routers. Molds were then made from the models using urethane. The project, which will be completed this summer, requires a variety of fish. Those swimming below the “water’s surface” will be cast in natural grey Ductal, while those leaping out of the water will be produced with integral coloring.

For additional information, visit www.imagineductal.com.

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