November 2019


The renovation of one of the country’s earliest reinforced concrete domes, carried out using Sika’s high-performance repair and protection system, is the recipient of a highly-prized industry award.
The rotunda covers Whitley Bay’s Spanish City, originally the site of the north-east town’s most celebrated permanent fairground, and recipient of a Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) commendation following its ‘outstanding’ transformation into a social and leisure complex featuring bars, restaurants, tea rooms and event spaces.

The venue opened in its new guise in July 2018 – 18 years after its closure. The original building stood for 99 years following its construction in 1910, and as well as being a beacon for holidaymakers from all parts, it provided the inspiration for Tunnel of Love – one of the best-known songs by local music legends, Dire Straits. More than 100,000 visitors have passed through Spanish City’s doors since its repurposing, making it one of the north-east’s must-see venues. Indeed, The Telegraph newspaper recently acclaimed it among the top 10 destinations to visit in its ‘Best of British’ feature.

Spanish City’s stunning restoration is the result of an exemplary collaboration between ADP Architecture, North Tyneside Council and Robertson Construction. The painstaking restructure of the partially demolished building began more than a decade ago. This initially involved a careful examination of the concrete rotunda, which was found to be structurally sound, but in need of a number of repairs to ensure its future. With its proven concrete repair and protection solution, Sika had a range of products to refurbish the dome and safeguard the future of the building’s steel reinforcement.

Specialist contractor, St Astier, used a variety of Sika products, principally Sika
MonoTop®-610 and Sika MonoTop®-615, part of the company’s comprehensive concrete repair system.

Sika MonoTop®-610 is a one-component, cementitious, polymer-modified mortar containing silica fume and corrosion inhibitors. It provides a proven method of preventing continued corrosion of steel reinforcement in concrete, as well as a bonding bridge for the company’s MonoTop®-615 cement-based, polymer-modified, high-build repair and re-profiling mortar. This was applied to the exterior of the structure which, due to its dome shape, required the St Astier’s expertise to ensure its effectiveness. After preparing the surface, two coats of Sika MonoTop®-610 were applied followed by a layer of MonoTop®-615. This was completed as a ‘wet-on-wet’ application in subsequent layers until completion. Together, this provided a seal across the dome, preventing any corrosion or degradation of the concrete and steel reinforcing.

The dome’s steel reinforcements were protected by Sika’s FerroGard® 903. Surface-applied, it works by seeping through the pores of the concrete to act as a defence against corrosion. Retaining its strength for many years, it is a simple and economic means of keeping the structure in good condition.

As a result of detailed analysis carried out on the existing layers of paint on the dome, RAL 9010 was deemed to be the closest match to the original 1910 colour and was added as the final finishing coat to the structure. This hard-wearing top layer also prevents carbonation and is resistant to salts - perfect for a seaside attraction.
The twin elements of Sikagard®-545 W Elastofill and Sikagard®-550 W Elastic provided the structure’s weather resistant finish - a crucial protective layer, bearing in mind the sometimes harsh conditions experienced on the exposed north-east coast.

Designed in 1909 by architects Cackett & Burns-Dick of Newcastle, the dome is an early example of the Hennebique patented system of reinforced concrete construction. When originally opened more than 100 years ago, it was the largest in the UK after St Paul's Cathedral. Now restored and protected by Sika’s market leading knowhow, Spanish City is primed to continue as a celebrated north-east attraction for another century at least.