The exact history of 56 Church Street was unknown to the architects when they were appointed by the client. The building had been neglected for years. Retaining the original character of the building, as well as creating safety, natural light and ventilation have been driving principles in establishing an appropriate architectural solution. It has been the careful integration of these elements within the historical context that the client and the city have bought in to the project favourably.
The existing ground timber floor had been exposed to years of rising damp, due to old
building techniques and was rotten.
The Architect’s approached Johan Coetzee, owner of World of Decorative Concrete, to develop a floor system that would be robust enough to handle the presence of below ground water, but also achieve a high-end quality finish that the client requested.
The architects briefing was clear: “The colour of the concrete, as well as the colour and aggregate mix within the concrete, had to complement the historic dry-pack slate walls that were to be expressed”. For this reason, we decided to come up a Lafarge Artevia polished concrete. We suggested a natural grey concrete with a 13mm Villiersdorp quartz, as the aggregate. We had to break away from the normal Artevia and needed to pump the concrete due to logistical problems at site.
The polished concrete floor chosen by Alex and Reanne has created a durable, hardwearing surface that is well suited to the original dry pack slate walls created 250 years ago.
The 7 stage, highly ground and polished concrete, reflects the natural light through the space of the Smith’s Art Gallery.
An additional perimeter edge was installed, firstly as barrier to absorb water that would collect through the slate walls, secondly to ward off gallery patrons from touching the works while on display.
Aluminium strips were installed within all joints to accentuate the construction process, as well as to help to achieve the quality finish that the Architects team required and the quality that was achieved at the end.