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Miller, Robin
Pieces of the jigsaw - the early development of concrete in Otago, New Zealand
16th Engineering Heritage Australia Conference: Conserving Our Heritage - Make a Difference!
Engineers Australia, Barton, Australian Capital Territory, 2011, pp. 75-96

Jackie Gillies + Associates are a practice of heritage architects on New Zealand's South Island. In the last year the practice has become involved in conservation work at a 1875 Category I concrete house known as 'Woodside', designed by Francis Petre, and the 1876 Category II ruins of a concrete mansion known as 'The Cliffs' or 'Cargill's Castle', also by Petre and built for the merchant and Politician, Edward Bowles Cargill. Both buildings are located in the Otago region of the South Island in the city of Dunedin. Francis Petre is well-known for being one of the early pioneers of the use of concrete in New Zealand and designed some of the country's finest late 19th and early 20th century buildings, including St. Dominic's Priory in Dunedin and The Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch. His extensive use of the material resulted in him being known by some as 'Lord Concrete'. Part of Jackie Gillies + Associates' research in order to understand the heritage significance of Woodside involved analysis of the concrete. This included chemical analysis, differential thermal analysis (DTA), X-Ray analysis and scanning electron microscopy of a sample of the concrete core. The work was undertaken by Peter Ellis of Rose of Jericho and WHD Microanalysis Consulting in the United Kingdom. Rose of Jericho concluded this to be "an extraordinary sample". The paper explains what has been discovered to date about these highly interesting houses and their place in the advancements in concrete technology in the early days of Otago - all too often architects and engineers think of concrete as a fairly unremarkable, 20th century material. In fact, evidence of its use survives in New Zealand from the early 1850s and these two buildings are considered to be highly significant, not only to New Zealand's concrete heritage, but also to the international development of this technology.

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