Council officers have defended the “highly competent” renovation of Provost Skene’s House following criticism over its appearance.
SNP councillor Michael Hutchison last month accused the local authority of “disregarding the city’s heritage” and said the building’s brickwork had been partially covered with mortar.
His comments led to a bad-tempered furore at the subsequent meeting of Aberdeen City Council’s city growth and resources committee amid claims staff involved in the £3.8 million restoration had been left “distraught”.
Mr Hutchison will be referred to Scotland’s standards watchdog, with members of the council’s administration claiming his actions breached the councillors’ code of conduct.
Provost Skene’s House ‘a little different’
Now local authority officers have provided an update to members of the capital programme committee in which they highlighted the “care” taken over the restoration of Aberdeen’s oldest building.
In a report which will go before the committee next week, the council’s senior architect Colin Doig acknowledged Provost Skene’s House looks “a little different” – but claimed that is because the previous cement-based mortar was “damaging”.
Instead contractors have used a traditional lime-based mortar, which they claim is “breathable”, will protect the stonework and has already alleviated problems with damp and cold inside the 16th-century building.
“Cement based mortars are not good for masonry buildings as they trap moisture within the walls and cause damage to stonework,” Mr Doig wrote in his report.
“At Provost Skene’s House the cement pointing used in the past was also causing the bedding mortar and even some of the sandstone to fail. Traditional lime mortars are breathable, to not cause damage to stonework.”
Opening date to be confirmed
No date has yet been set for the opening of Provost Skene’s House, although council officials remain optimistic they will be able to welcome members of the public later this year.
It will be the home of a “Hall of Heroes”, celebrating the achievements of notable people from across the north-east.
Architects say they are in “early communication” over an opening date, which will be subject to Covid-19 restrictions.
The latest update on the project will go before the council’s capital programme committee next week.