The Chennai Corporation is planning to use fibre wrap technology to fortify another heritage structure in the city.
The technology, which is being used on the Kodambakkam Bridge and Ripon Buildings at present, will now be used to preserve the KAJ Schmidt Memorial on Elliot’s Beach.
“Work on fibre wrapping a strip of Schmidt Memorial will be taken up as part of the restoration of the structure. Fibre wrap was not part of the original proposal but has been recommended now. Restoration of the intricate carvings, lattice windows and floral artwork on the structure will not be affected by the fibre wrap,” said a Corporation official.
The fibre wrapping will be in addition to the Rs. 15-lakh archaeological restoration work of the memorial. While preparing estimates for the restoration work, the civic body had sought the help of the Archaeological Survey of India.
The fibre wrap will strengthen the brick and lime mortar structure and prevent cracks from developing anywhere between the top and the base of the structure, the official said. The wrap is capable of withstanding extremes of temperature. It will be wound around the structure and lime mortar will then be packed on the surface.
“The work is expected to be completed in a month. A portion of the fibre wrapping material used on the columns of Kodambakkam Bridge as part of the restoration of the 50-year-old structure will be used for the memorial,” said the official. The use of fibre wrap will also prevent the structure from collapsing during, or after an earthquake.
The blue of the fibre wrap will also not affect the original ivory colour of the structure. After de-plastering, fibre wrapping and re-plastering of the memorial’s top two-ft. portion, its original colour will be restored.
Lime mortar work will be done by traditional artisans similar to the work being done at Ripon Buildings.
The Corporation is using the services of contractors experienced in archaeological restoration for this work. The crack at the apex of the memorial’s arch, which has been erected over two broad pillars, had developed because of uneven settlement. Granite slabs have already been used to increase the stability of the structure’s foundation, officials said.
A few months ago, the Corporation placed barricades around the memorial to facilitate its restoration. After the restoration is completed, the structure will have a permanent fence around it. Schmidt Memorial was built in 1930 to commemorate the gallantry of a European sailor.