Building concrete relationships

Staff from the Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands team had a hands-on visit exploring DZG’s unique Modernist buildings – and tried a spot of concrete repairing too!

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The group, pictured above and left at the Bear Ravine, spent the day learning more about our four Tecton buildings which have been restored as part of a £1.15million project supported by Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) West Midlands.

Structural engineer Stuart Tappin and architect David Platts, who worked with the zoo on the project, gave a short presentation about the ambitious task of restoring the zoo’s iconic wave Entrance, Safari Shop, Bear Ravine and Kiosk One to their former 1930s glory.

Then DZG’s Construction Supervisor Carlo Diponio took the party on a tour of the imposing Bear Ravine and let them try their hand at concrete repairing.

Carlo said: “I had to make all the tools myself to be able to do the repairs, as you can’t just go out and buy a Tecton repair kit! It has been very rewarding and the results are magnificent.”

He worked with apprentices Nathan Beaman and Aaron Gelder, who were on the in-house apprentice-training scheme also funded by the project.  

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Head of Heritage Lottery Fund West Midlands, Reyahn King, said it was interesting for the team to come and visit one of the lottery-funded projects and exciting to see the work completed. 

PICTURED – HLF Office Manager Dee Tranter (left) and HLF Development Officer Catherine Kemp (below) try out their concreting techniques.

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Zoo Director Derek Grove said: “This project has been made possible by the Heritage Lottery Fund and we are immensely grateful that we have been able to restore this incredible collection that is recognised across the globe.

“The buildings have been repaired using original techniques and materials. This was the first time this has been done worldwide, so it truly is a unique programme.”

As well as the apprentice-training scheme, the project also funded an on-site exhibition of renowned Modernist designer Berthold Lubetkin’s work and an education programme for schools.

DZG has 12 reinforced concrete Tectons – the world’s largest single collection of Tectons designed by Russian-born Berthold Lubetkin, widely recognised as one of the most outstanding architects of the 1930s. The collection, built between 1935 and the zoo’s opening in May 1937, was awarded World Monument status in 2009.