Tecton structures at Dudley Zoo
This article describes a visit by The Institute of Historic Building Conservation (IHBC) in 2016. It is based on an article that originally appeared in Context 146, published by IHBC in September 2016 and compiled from reports by Sara Crofts, Claire Gayle and Rosamund Worrall.
[Image: Tecton structures at Dudley Zoo: The bear pit. Copyright Sara Crofts]
The IHBC visit to Dudley Castle and Zoological Gardens was led by architect Larry Priest with input from construction supervisor Carlo Diponio. Priest talked through the repair of four of the 1935-37 Tecton-designed structures, part of a wider heritage lottery funded £1.15 million project to upgrade the facilities at the zoo.
The visitors were deeply impressed by the team’s thoughtful approach to the necessary repairs. Happily, the design team was not under pressure in terms of time, so they could afford to carry out thorough investigative works. The structures were painstakingly cleaned and examined in order to fully understand their construction, including the important use of colour revealed through extensive paint analysis. This allowed detailed specifications for the repair processes to be worked up, and essentially de-risked the project.
Specialist manufacturers were asked for advice on appropriate surface treatments as the team was keen to ensure the Tecton structures retained something close to their original appearance. Innovative thinking was needed to find structural solutions that would allow maximum retention of the existing fabric, leading to the novel use of carbon-fibre as reinforcement.
In every respect this project has been pragmatic – repairs remain visible and the shortcomings of the essentially ‘temporary’ prototype structures have been fully recognised. Techniques, tools and methodologies have been carefully recorded to ensure the lessons learned can be applied to future phases of repair. In essence this is a work in progress, but the visitors were hugely inspired by the passion and commitment of everyone involved.
Discussions were had about the compatibility of the structures with modern requirements for animal habitats. While the Bear Ravine may no longer be appropriate for bears, it is currently occupied by large birds.
Following exploration of the Tecton structures, Chris Hunt explained the innovative ways in which Purcell has been undertaking condition surveys of impressive castles, such as Harlech, Beaumaris and Dudley, which overlooks the zoo and surrounding area. These methods included mobile elevated work platforms (MEWP) and drones to assess inaccessible places, particularly those where the construction may not be sound enough for professionals to trudge around. The presentation demonstrated how advances in technology can assist heritage professionals in their work.
[Image: Tecton structures at Dudley Zoo: The wavy roofs of the entrance booths. Copyright Tom Hunter]
Featured articles and news
The IHBC helps UK Civic Trusts to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the introduction of Conservation Areas, with a fund allocation of up to £2500, including a prize of a place at the IHBC’s Annual School on offer for the most effective project.
The IHBC’s commercial conservation services listing, HESPR – the Historic Environment Service Providers Recognition scheme – offers weekly HESPR Bulletins listing tender opportunities. The Director’s top pick for IHBC members this week features Redbridge Borough Council’s search for a ‘consultant to provide additional guidance to support the Council’s evidence base in relation to tall buildings throughout the Borough’, with a contract valued at £60,000.
This year the AGM will be held in Lisburn on 9th November, followed by the joint conference ‘Heritage for the Next Generation, Who Pays?’, organised by the Branch with Lagan Navigation Trust and Heritage Trust Network. Key ministerial and media speakers include Paul Givan MLA, John Sergeant and Joe Mahon.
The IHBC has warmly welcomed Historic Environment Scotland's (HES) new website, a ‘Place to Explore your Built Heritage'.
Bristol may have lost one of its oldest and most historically important churches as St Michael on the Mount Without adds itself to the long line of listed buildings assailed by fire.
A resident has been fined £1,600 after Harlow Council took him to court for failing to demolish an outbuilding he has built in his garden, as Councillor Danny Purton, Portfolio Holder for Environment there, said: ‘… People living in a conservation area take pride in maintaining its special character and this development does more harm than good and does nothing to either preserve or enhance the appearance of the area. There are no public benefits to outweigh the harm this causes.’
On 12 October 2016, the AQA exam board announced that it would not be continuing work to develop new AS and A-levels in Archaeology, Classical Civilisation, History of Art and Statistics, and petitions objecting to these plans have been generating lots of signatures.
Firefighters worked through the night of 13 October to battle a huge blaze at a former north-east hospital, the derelict Glen O’Dee hospital, Banchory as now news reports have emerged that the Category A listed building, which once featured on the BBC ‘Restoration’ programme, has been deliberately destroyed by fire.
An appeal launched relating to housing near the historic battlefield of Edgehill, Stratford-upon-Avon in Warwickshire has been dismissed, with the inspector concluding that the appeal was not in accordance with the development plan and that harm to the character of the surroundings would be likely to occur.
The remembrance poppy sculpture ‘weeping window’ which was initially at the Tower of London now graces another monument, this time in Wales, at Caernarfon Castle.