Aaron’s apprenticeship

A teenager from Coseley has started renovation work on DZG’s iconic Tecton structures as part of a new apprentice partnership with Dudley College.

web_dzg_tecton_work_2_0Aaron Gelder is the first student to take part in the scheme, which will see him work alongside builders to repair four of the site’s historic Modernist buildings – Front Entrance, Safari Shop, Bear Ravine and Kiosk One.

The 18-year-old was nominated for the training scheme by college staff and will gain hands on experience on site for four days a week, while continuing part time with his NVQ level 2 Maintenance operations and level 2 diploma construction studies.

Aaron said: “I’m really looking forward to working on the Tectons. There’s a lot of history attached and it will be great to learn new building and construction techniques.”

The Tecton structures were designed by Russian-born Berthold Lubetkin and constructed between 1935 and 1937 using a pioneering system of concrete reinforced with steel rods.

DZG has the world’s largest single collection of Tecton buildings; all 12 gained World Monuments Fund status in 2009.

Following Heritage Lottery funding, renovation work is being carried out using the same techniques used almost eight decades ago, including matched shades of paint and concrete formula.

DZG CEO Peter Suddock – pictured with Aaron – said: “Aaron has been with us since September and initially worked with our maintenance team to familiarise him with the zoo site.

“He’s now started on the 1930’s buildings working alongside our newly-appointed Construction Supervisor and has a unique opportunity to learn a variety of new repair skills specifically involved with Tecton renovation.

“We have just taken on a second apprentice to join Aaron, which will enable more locally-skilled people to work on these internationally renowned buildings.”


Dudley Zoo concrete repair apprentice, Aaron Gelder, works on the site’s iconic Safari Shop – architect Lubetkin’s Safari Cafe – in readiness for the project’s Easter completion.