This week’s VIP Tecton Tour highlighted the intensity of work our unique Modernist conservation project has demanded throughout the past 18 months.
While the work in itself has been consuming, visitor logistics were a challenge we remained open to the public during the whole of the restoration programme which is no mean feat when two of the 1930s Tecton structures, Entrance and Safari Shop, were in constant use and both geographically placed at the point of entry and exit for all visitors.
DZG? Head of Media and Communications, and author of Towers and Tectons, Jill Hitchman, said: “It’s been a most interesting project and everyone involved has become fully immersed in the task of restoring these incredible buildings to their original state.
“The transparency of the project allowed visitors to keep up to speed with reparation work and share our delight at uncovering treasures from the past and our frustrations when inclement weather hindered progress.”
Rain didn’t stop Team Tecton thanks to a shrink-wrapped waterproof skin across the full span of the Bear Ravine.
She added: “Through our pioneering apprentice scheme we’ve developed and honed bespoke building skills for specialist concrete restoration, which will allow us to tackle further reparation on the remaining eight Tecton structures, and unearthed stories from the past surrounding our Modernist collection, which have boosted our archives and prompted anecdotes from visitors in the 1930s and 40s we have shared with our website and Facebook followers.”
DZG has the world’s largest single collection of Tecton structures, which were designed by renowned Modernist architect, Russian-born Berthold Lubetkin, and built during 1935 and the zoo’s opening in May 1937.
Jill said: “Today’s market offers a vast range of versatile building products, but in 1937 when DZG ?opened to the public the designs of the Tectons were considered structurally daring and made use of a new material, pre-stressed concrete.
“Reinforced with steel rods inserted under tensions, the concrete could be bent into curves and forms hitherto impossible to achieve with other materials, allowing eye-catching curving lines and projecting floors to be constructed which did not resemble any previous architectural style.”
She added:? “Across eight decades it would have been easy to allow them to decline into the role of concrete dinosaur instead we chose to offer them sanctuary, gradually adapting them as a modern zoo evolved.