Façade Works – Ambassador’s Residence, Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  • Client: Foreign & Commonwealth Office
  • Construction Year: 2019/2020
  • Location: Buenos Aires, Argentina
  • Duration: 28 Weeks
  • Sector: Government and Local Authorities

In 2017 the British Embassy in Buenos Aires celebrated 100 years of the Residence – a building that is on Argentina’s national heritage list and regarded as one of the most beautiful British diplomatic residences in the world. The building, which was initially known as the Madero-Unzué Residence was built between 1913 and 1917 by British architects Walter B. Bassett Smith and Bertie Hawkins Collcutt at the request of the Madero-Unzué family. It is an Edwardian building but it also combines elements of the Bourbon era with 18th century English neo-Palladian features. The residence was offered for sale by the Madero-Unzué family and purchased by the British Government in 1945.

Client Objectives

Works are to the external elevations of the building focusing on the over-sailing eaves cornice and rainwater disposal from the roof structure. It includes masonry, steelwork, slate and zinc repairs combined with further investigation of the façade to determine the extents and required remedial works to the widespread cracking and displaced render. The objective of the works were to address the water penetration into the structure, repair damaged elements and halt further deterioration given the potential dangers of failing materials from the building whilst maintaining the building as a fully functioning Residence and the gardens for functions.

The Works

Having fully scaffolded the building this enabled a full and detailed inspection of the Residence. It soon became apparent that a comprehensive restoration of the building facade was required which we are currently midway through completing.

Concept Building Services were subsequently commissioned to produce detailed elevational drawings to record the project and its progression. We have also advised and provided design and construction proposals in association with our in-country restoration team on the necessary repairs and implementation of the same.

The works have evolved to now include:

  • removal and recovering of the flat roof topping the mansard construction;
  • removal and replacement of the zinc roofing to the dormer roofs encompassing wider flashing/weathering replacement and improvements;
  • wide spread masonry repairs to the dormers;
  • complete replacement of the zinc box gutter and capping to the cornice;
  • employment of specialist non-destructive masonry cleaning techniques;
  • extensive repairs to the cornice and supporting steel structure;
  • removal and reinstatement of the feature modillions utilising no-disruptive fixing techniques;
  • joinery repairs and redecorations;
  • masonry repairs and redecorations using a lime based render employing skilled craftsmen to reform details and decorative elements;
  • the application a mineral (natural pigment) silicate based paint system for use in exposed locations, tropical regions and subjected to pollutants and contaminants to ensure the preservation of the building.

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