Archbishop’s Residence

Historical Restoration Works to Facade of Residence and Chapel

The Archbishop’s Residence, one of the “Magnificent Seven” located around the Queen’s Park Savannah, was completed in 1904 and serves as the official residence and chapel of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Port-of-Spain. CG Construction Services Ltd. was commissioned to carry out this restoration in 2011, and given the nature of restoration works, it is impossible to predetermine the full scope of works; therefore our focus was on carrying out the restoration efficiently, safely and as authentically as possible. This restoration presented the Company with the challenge of relearning traditional construction techniques for the preservation of our architectural heritage.

When historic buildings are repaired, it is vital to use the same materials and methods employed by the original craftsmen to allow for the minimum loss of original fabric, thus retaining their antiquity, authenticity and history. A careful and thorough inspection was carried out and it was determined that the building is constructed using lime concrete and mortar, which permits the walls to breathe by allowing the passage of moisture into the atmosphere. Well intentioned craftsmen in the modern era have attempted repairs using non-breathable materials such as Portland cement, latex and emulsion paints, which do not possess breathable characteristics. This results in decarbonation of the original lime concrete walls, leading to powdering, delamination, and loss of structural integrity.

These historic techniques utilized have been lost to modern masons, so it was essential to reintroduce these in training our tradesmen through two practical workshops held before commencing works. Douglas Johnson, a building conservationist from the United Kingdom, illustrated proper lime mortar restoration techniques, and Tom Tripps, representative from KEIM Mineral Coatings, trained the team in the preparation and application of the specialized breathable mineral silicate paints that were utilised.

The existing paint was thoroughly stripped using a non caustic paint stripper which contains no harmful chemicals, therefore making it ecologically friendly. Areas where Portland cement was found, as well as where deterioration of the lime concrete was observed, had to be carefully removed and replaced with a hydrated lime mortar mix. This process was very arduous, as lime mortar must be built up in thin layers, and cured in slow drying, moist and humid conditions to achieve carbonation.

After completion of the masonry works, a specialized mineral silicate paint manufactured by KEIM Mineral Coatings was utilized to allow the lime mortar to breathe properly, therefore preventing future degeneration of the walls due to improper use of materials.

Detailed planning, optimal use of scaffolding and efficient employment of skilled labour and materials resulted in the project being completed under budget, and within 12 months. Specialist scaffolding and rigging contractors were employed to provide safe access, and daily toolbox talks were held. Strict adherence to PPE requirements were enforced resulting in zero accidents.

Credit for the successful completion of this project is not limited to the design team, which consisted of Rudylynn De Four Roberts, Restoration Architect, Genivar as the Engineer and CG Construction Services Ltd. as the Contractor. Due to many techniques being lost to the modern industry, consultations with a wide scope of specialists in the international restoration community was necessary to obtain the solutions to a range of challenges that were presented throughout the project schedule.

CG Construction Services Ltd is proud to be associated with the restoration of this architectural icon.




Published on: Oct 01 2012 | Filed under: Project Gallery | Tags: , ,

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