A teenager from Tipton has joined DZG’s Tecton restoration team as part of a unique apprentice partnership.
Nathan Beaman is the second student to join the scheme, between DZG and Dudley College, which is providing hands-on experience and lessons in restoration of the site’s iconic Tecton buildings.
The 19-year-old is working on the renovation of the lower site’s historic Modernist Bear Ravine and Kiosk One for four days a week, while continuing part time with his NVQ level 2 Maintenance operations studies at the college.
Nathan said: “I’m really enjoying working on the ravine and it’s great experience for me to learn new techniques that I’ve never used before.”
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 Tecton collection with all 12 buildings gaining World Monuments Fund status in 2009.
The team has successfully completed restoration of the Safari Shop and iconic wave Entrance, with work now focusing on the Bear Ravine and adjacent former confectionery Kiosk One, using authentic 1930s techniques, including the exact same concrete formula.
DZG Construction Supervisor, Carlo Diponio, said: “This is a unique opportunity for Nathan, who is eager to learn the new skills used to repair the Tecton buildings.”
Nathan is working alongside Aaron Gelder, who was the first apprentice to join the scheme last year.
DZG CEO Peter Suddock said alongside creating career opportunities the apprenticeship scheme offers a future for the restoration of further Tecton buildings across the zoo’s 40-acre site.
He said: “By training apprentices in this way we are not only providing solid career prospects, but also securing a future for this magnificent range of Modernist structures.
“Restoration ranges from the extensive work we can now see to the Bear Ravine to minor repairs to the fabric of Tectons in daily use, including the Reptiliary, which is now home to a mob of meerkats, and the newly-opened toilet block within the Triple Tecton complex which includes the tiger, macaques and bear enclosures.”
He added: “We see this apprenticeship scheme as a long-term venture to ensure our Tectons are around for future generations to discover.”