Ministry of Education, Guyana

Tuesday, 07 June 2016 00:00

Day two of International Heritage Conference focuses on documentation and conservation of historic structures and resources:

Guyana has a rich history of building which utilizes one of Guyana’s most available natural resource - wood or timber. Day two of the Georgetown International Heritage Conference addressed a number of factors surrounding the preservation and conservation of wooded buildings, with particular focus was on the restoration of City Hall and the St. George's Cathedral in Georgetown.

In his presentation, President and Wood Scientist for Anthony and Associates, Inc. USA, Ron Anthony positioned that the behaviour of wood, globally, is the same but what differs is the process of degregation which occurs at varying degrees. This is influenced by the temperature and humidity.
He noted that wood identification is crucial. This takes into consideration the quality of the wood for a specific use as this has an impact on the quality of the building and future repairs. In this regard, Anthony advised that the same type of wood and cut of wood be used for repairs. It is therefore important for the wood to be properly identified because of the variety of wood that is categorised as one species.
When considering historic preservation and conservation several factors emerge. Anthony noted that looking at the strength value of the wood is key. This helps to pinpoint the deterioration mechanisms, engineering issues, safety and building codes, priority for repairs and grading rules.
Another element is the investigation of the historic structures so as to ensure the maintenance of its integrity. Also, the definitions of the evaluation conditions are useful. In Guyana’s case, the National Trust of Guyana is in the position to set those definitions based on Guyana’s situation. news 20160607 6
Having recognised that much of Guyana’s historic buildings are wooden, and are exposed to the elements, Anthony explained that the replacement of damaged material, in this case wood, with steel is not ideal. This is so because wood and steel function differently and are affected differently by the weather.
Anthony urged that being innovative will help with structural repairs of Guyana’s built heritage.
While looking at the nature of historic structures, Liam O'Hanlon, Structural Engineer and Principal at RSE Associates Inc. USA posited that in the case of the USA and other countries, the repair or restoration of historic buildings are affected by new building codes and regulations. He added that sourcing the original drawings of the building is sometimes a challenge.
O'Hanlon highlighted that conducting a structural analysis is essential to the repair of historic buildings. He emphasized that in some instances the initial design and construction of a building can affect its restoration in the future.
These presentations highlighted the scale of work needed to bring City Hall back to its former glory. There is no doubt that these sessions will both energize and inspire those tasked with the building's restoration. It is anticipated that City Hall will be maintained for future posterity.
The Georgetown International Heritage Conference continues tomorrow at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre, Liliendaal at 09:00hrs. This conference was spearheaded by the National Trust of Guyana and the Ministry of Education, Department of Culture, Youth and Sport with support from the World Monuments Fund.


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