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Gilbert-Scott’s architectural jewel shines brightly again

The obelisk roof membrane has been restored to its prime

Our Lady Help of Christians Catholic Church in Birmingham is among the most celebrated designs of the renowned architect, the late Richard Gilbert Scott. And this year its distinctive obelisk roof membrane has been restored to its prime, thanks to the expertise of SIG Design & Technology (D&T).

At the church – a Grade II Listed building – the original copper foil faced bitumen sheet roof covering had deteriorated in recent years and this material is no longer being manufactured.

In addition, the roof formation at Our Lady Help of Christians posed a challenging shape which meant the application of sheet metals would not work.

However, SIG D&T’s specification managers advised the conservation architects on a choice of suitable replacement materials, and liquid waterproofing system Repoma, exclusively supplied by SIG in the UK, proved to be the ideal choice.

In addition, SIG D&T worked with the manufacturers to create a bespoke patina to match the original tint of the copper roof at its peak, in 1968. This process required set-up and colour-matching work both in Belgium with supplier RPM, and with SIG D&T technical services and its site support team.

Part of the matching process included testing a number of colour options. To perfect the outcome, SIG consulted a painting of the church believed to have been created by a parishioner of ‘Our Lady,’ which was based on a photograph.

The results following this work are now plain to see at the church in Kitts Green, which is featured in the book, 100 Buildings, 100 Years, a collection of architecturally outstanding buildings published by the Twentieth Century Society.

SIG Design & Technology’s sales director, Ross Finnie, said: “Restoring Richard Gilbert Scott’s church is a very prestigious conservation project. Our work in creating the optimum patina colour match was something of a game-changer in delivering project support to the conservation architect.”

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