Castellani ceiling in Parliament chamber to come down
To facilitate repairs to roof beams
Stabroek News
July 21, 2002

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In less than a month the Italianate plaster ceiling of the Parliament chamber in the Public Buildings which was designed by Maltese architect, Cesar Castellani in the 19th century, will be removed because the beams in the roof above it are rotten.

When asked by Sunday Stabroek as to whether the ceiling would be destroyed in the process, and if it were, whether it could be restored to its original state again, Deputy Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs, said that he had been informed that there was someone in Guyana who was capable of restoring it in the event that any damage was done while taking it down. The ceiling is attached to pieces of wood, he said, which are in turn secured to the beams of the roof.

Asked for a response to the issue of whether the ceiling could be removed without damage, architect Albert Rodrigues answered in the negative. Further, he said, he rather felt that the expertise did not exist in Guyana to restore it to its pristine state.

Isaacs said that he had been told by the Central Tender Board that four tenders had been submitted for the contract. Asked if there any were overseas firms among them, and if so, who they were, Isaacs said he could not say, as they were only referred to as Tender 1, 2, etc.

The Deputy Clerk noted that the repairs were long overdue as nothing had been done to the roof since it was constructed, and now most of the beams were old and rotten and had to be changed. He also said that because of the poor condition of the roof it was impossible for contractors to work from the outside, as opposed to accessing the beams from inside the chamber via the ceiling.

Architect Orin Hinds told this newspaper that he had been asked by the Parliament Office to look at the ceiling about two years ago, and had made some recommendations in relation to it. At that point in time, he said, his view was that the exercise could have been undertaken because only parts of the roof would have had to have been replaced and so the whole ceiling would not have been affected.