Restoring the large Brazzaville house

It took approximately one year and a team of ten people working full time to fully restore this house, not counting the exterior repairs such as treating the surface of the metallic parts.

As we had opted for long-term conservation that respects the structural integrity of the house, we had no other option than full restoration, just as one would do for a vintage car.

We carefully kept all the constituent parts of the house, including the corroded parts. However, considering the state of decay of the sheet steel components comprising the bearing platform, we decided to restore it to its original state, so that the exterior of the house could be exhibited and the house could once again become totally safe for use.

The axial portal frames and the sheet steel frame were in excellent condition and required no surface treatment. We kept one leg of a portal frame in its condition, after the appropriate stripping, to show how it had been well preserved.

The aluminum sheet coverings: facade panels, doors, balustrades and roof deckings had all been well preserved. However, a lot of work was required to fix all the dents, slashes, bullet impacts, tears and many more caused by the weather and by man.


Some of the highly damaged elements, such as the portholed panels – cutouts made by later users to insert air conditioners – were preciously preserved; the missing parts were re-fabricated to the original model then grafted onto the house.

The floor laths were originally in solid oak, shipped from France with the houses. Most of them had been replaced with locally-made iroko lathes; we completed them on site.

The rock wool insulation inside the doors, facade panels and the hanging ceilings had been completely redone.

In Brazzaville, the houses were mounted on reinforced concrete piers connected to the masonry foundations.

In order to dismantle, ship and re-assemble the house within a few days, while ensuring that it stood on solid foundations capable of resisting the most violent natural phenomena, a collapsible platform comprised of a network of rolled steel joists bolted to each other, had been designed and built especially for it.

The 21 steel piers bolted on the ground structure, were designed for adjusting the height of the house by 0.60m to 3.50m.


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