The National Trust of Guyana had submitted City Hall for nomination to the World Monuments Watch list and GINA said on Friday that Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport, Dr Frank Anthony announced that Guyana for the first time has been placed on the list.
GINA said that at a press conference at his ministry, Anthony said a broad stakeholder committee was needed to push for repairs at City Hall, and this had to be done along with the Georgetown City Council.
Chief Executive Officer of the Guyana National Trust, Nirvana Persaud said, “This is more of an international promotion or advertisement at that level …The fund, while they have some amount of funds they dedicate in smaller sections to these sites.” City Hall will be on the list for the period 2014 – 2016, GINA said.
She voiced hope that the site will attract the attention of local sponsors to assist in some aspects of City Hall’s restoration. “During this period it is expected that the local community, will mobilise awareness and would form groups so as to help safeguard it”, she said, according to GINA.
“It is a prestigious opportunity for us to really work towards preservation of one of our most remarkable structures, and it’s one of the most remarkable throughout the Caribbean,” Persaud added.
GINA said that the WMF had received 248 nominations, from which 67 heritage sites from 41 countries were selected.
The Mayor and City Council and conservationists have called for a number of years for urgent rehabilitation of the picturesque City Hall which has seen major deterioration.
A recent report by two consultants had found that the “greater part” of the deterioration of City Hall is a result of water leaks. They recommended that the building be disconnected from the electrical network to avoid risk of fire due to existing leaking and exposure of power electrical lines.
Ihosvany De Oca Morales and Nigel Renwick, two architects from TVA Consultants, in their preliminary report, also called for the creation of an independent action committee to be given the authority to shepherd the restoration process.
The report, which was received by Georgetown Mayor Hamilton Green outlines areas for immediate action to arrest the deterioration of the building and a strategic approach for moving the process forward.
The two architects, who were in Guyana in April this year to assess the architectural structure of City Hall, found that the “water ingress” is a consequence of defective guttering, damaged valleys, degraded window sills and defective shingles which have accelerated exponentially in the last year or two.
As a result, the report said, priority should be given to finding a solution to water ingress, which is the key factor that triggers many other problems. Entire sections of the guttering system are also missing, blocked or disconnected and continuity of rain water drainage is interrupted. Based on the findings by the architects, recommendations for immediate works include the continuity of guttering system, which must be secured by using temporary solutions. The report said that a new guttering system may be put in place to protect building features from rain water splashing and it may be considered to keep the existing roof drainage arrangement and outlet locations in place.
The report also noted that structural settlement has also been detected in the building and it requires a detailed structural survey, analysis and recommendations. The tower top is one such area where settlement was observed. According to the report, the lower section of the tower seems to be settled in one of the corners linked to the main core structure. It added that the sinking of this area situated at the north western intersection with the building is more exacerbated at the first floor level, with inclination of the floor towards the area. It also said that large areas of external wall panelling have dislodged because of the settlement and in conjunction with the water damage.
Ingression has also been occurring on the main mansard roof because of the lack of systematic maintenance and damage is consequently extending to sections of the ceiling boards and affecting members of the hammer beam structure as well.
The concert hall ceiling structure has also showed clear signs of deformation on its eastern side, where outward pressure is pushing the lower section of the hammer beam truss, the report said. As a result, a section of the east façade is out of plumb and some of the hammer beam rafters are displaced. This section of the refurbishing requires a precise structural survey, analysis of the causes and engineering recommendations for sustainable realignment or stabilization.
The report added that the extensive damage to ceilings is caused by water ingress coming from defective shingles that are unprotected or detached ridges. This affects the wooded members in the first stage and subsequently damaged structural members nearby. In addition to that, surface mounted electrical wiring is exposed to water contact increasingly at risk of electric shock and ultimately fire.