Waterproofing and Concrete Repairs Save Our Heritage Sites

December 18, 2014

concrete_repair_sydney

Let me ask you this: can you imagine this city without the Sydney Harbour Bridge? Since 1932 the ‘Coathanger’ has been emblematic of Sydney’s glittering brilliance. For the displaced peoples from Europe, who caught sight of the bridge as they rolled into Sydney Harbour, it was an emblem of a better future.

How about the ANZAC Memorial at Hyde Park? You may be so used to seeing it on your morning walk to work that the significance of this monument no longer weighs on you, but it’s representative of so much.

It’s a testament to our community spirit — in order to commemorate the first anniversary of the landing of troops at Gallipoli on 25 April 1915, Sydneysiders rallied together to raise the initial funds to build it.

It’s an embodiment of the collective grief of our state and country felt following World War I. And it remains today a stirring tribute and site of great importance to the servicemen and women who served in subsequent conflicts.

From a point of mere aesthetics, it’s heralded as one of the finest examples of Art Deco monumentality in Australia.

Can you image letting all this disintegrate with age?

Of course not.

Since the early days of the colony the government, council and community have all agreed there is a significant need to conserve our heritage buildings.

We’ve been lucky to get the opportunity to work on some of these valuable sites — including the ANZAC Memorial.

Here’s a quick rundown of how our team went about tackling the job of restoring this important testament to our nation’s heroes:

  • The bronze bas-reliefs surmounting the east and west portals were being attacked by water and salt. They feature glorious depictions of Australian military campaigns in Gallipoli and the Western Front, heralded as significant pieces of artwork in their own right and inspired by Roman Victory Columns. In order to return this integral piece of sculpture to its prior glory we got Sydney Artifacts Conservation to get to work on the painstaking process of restoration. Meticulous specialist brush and wax work reinstated the bronze to a glorious lustre while still complementing the age and heritage of the building.
  • We also repaired the concrete wall supporting the bas-relief, to keep it secure and available for future generations to visit.
  • The terrazzo floor drastically needed repairs. We used new colour-match tiles supplied by TAM Terrazzo to recondition it.
  • Two sandstone urns were suffering after years of exposure to rain and wind. We carefully removed them, and arranged for two spun-copper lids to be attached by a threaded stainless steel rod cast into the urn with light-weight concrete. This work was then secured with a stainless steel dome nut.
  • When it came to waterproofing the building, we assessed where leaks were happening and quickly went about repairing them. We did this using a Wolfin membrane and followed it up by extensively water testing the structure to ensure the job had been done perfectly.

As a special show of respect to our country’s fallen diggers, all work on the memorial ceased for a moment’s silence at 11am each day.

The project was an exciting one for the team. Not only was the location glorious and enjoyable to work in, but also there was a strong and very real feeling among the team of working together to restore an important monument dedicated to the honour of some truly important men and women.