University of Auckland: Maclaurin Chapel, Window Condition Assessment

The University of Auckland’s Maclaurin Chapel in Princes Street was designed in 1964 by the renowned Gummer and Ford practice. It was the result of a 1947 gift from Sir William Goodfellow for the construction of a chapel in memory of his son, Lt Richard Maclaurin Goodfellow, killed in WWII. Identified as Category B on the Auckland City schedule of heritage buildings, the Chapel is subject to statutory protection.

Following a series of building fabric failures in 2010, Salmond Reed was commissioned to carry out a building condition assessment of the roof, external walls, windows and doors.

The building is constructed from reinforced concrete, employing various textured finishes – plain concrete, smooth and fine-textured render (incorporating mica flakes that reflect in sunlight), and exposed aggregate. The roofs and spire are covered with copper sheet. The principal design element of the building is the Chapel window arrangement constructed along the east and west sides of the hexagonal plan form, using deep parallel laminated timber mullions with an innovative direct-bonded sheet foil cladding.

Salmond Reed’s roof survey identified a series of common defects such as ponding of water within coping/internal gutters, deterioration and failure of sealant over previous copper patch repairs, missing copper wire leaf-guards over sump outlets to built-in copper downpipes and damage from tree debris across flat roofs

Regular spillage from the blocked copper overflows was evidenced in the heavy staining and moss growth on the rendered exterior concrete wall surfaces.

The aluminium foil cladding to the Chapel’s window bays was found to be either heavily buckled or completely detaching due to failure of the adhesive and a thin coat of white paint to the foil (possibly not originally intended to be painted) had deteriorated with significant areas of flaking.

Salmond Reed’s report recommended a series of remedial measures split between maintenance (repainting, clearing blocked gutters, cleaning wall staining, internal redecoration, etc ), and repair (making good splits in copper sheet roofing, replacing decayed timber, dealing with corrosion in concrete reinforcement and the replacement of the damaged foil claddings to the timber window mullions). Since a modern replacement cladding, such as Alucobond, was considered inappropriate for a building of heritage status, Salmond Reed instead sourced a similar thickness of foil available in long rolls which proved a perfect match for the existing material – a like for like repair – and recommended suitable methods of bonding to avoid earlier problems.

Salmond Reed concluded their work by providing a Specification of Works setting out out Conservation repair practices so that the contract could be tendered and carried out by tradesmen suitably skilled to work with the range of original materials and achieve standards of workmanship in line with the original. 

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