The Conservation of Tecton Buildings at Dudley Zoo, West Midlands

Stuart Tappin and David Platts

The 12 listed Lubetkin-designed concrete structures at Dudley Zoo, built between 1936 and 1937, are the greatest collection of surviving Tecton buildings in the world and some of the most important modern movement buildings in the UK. As time has moved on and zoological practices have changed some of the Tecton structures have become unused and left to serve only as monuments. The lack of use has led to poor upkeep and deterioration. All were in a poor condition, mainly due to corrosion of the reinforcement, with works to enhance the structure required in a few locations.

Four of the structures have recently been repaired with help of the Heritage Lottery Fund. A conservation-based approach was adopted, with traditional concrete used for the majority of the repairs and carbon fibre added locally to stiffen a large cantilevered viewing platform. The repair of the structures was the first part of the conservation work and was followed by the reinterpretation of the structures to provide a programme which would sustain their future use. An area of the Bear Ravine is being used for long term testing by Historic England to monitor the performance of the different methods of repair.