Waterproofing at Auckland Zoo – Client Testimonial

Amazing wrap-around aquarium exhibit - not to mention the crocodiles!

Great to work on the new South East Asia Precinct at Auckland Zoo – waterproofing the amazing wrap-around aquarium. This exhibit houses not only its many fish but also the unique Tomistoma crocodiles!

Charles Currie caught up with Darin Brenner of Aqua-Environs on site, to chat about the project in more detail. School holidays aren’t a great time for an interview at the zoo! But Darin certainly gave us a great overview of the waterproofing system, and why it reassured his client.


DARIN: This is called the Swamp River Forest. It’s a part of the Southeast Asia jungle track. We called it the SEAP, South East Asia Precinct; and this is one of the larger pools in here. In fact, it wraps around most of the entire exhibit. So this pool here houses the… It’s primarily made for the Tomistoma Crocodiles, also known as False Ghariels. They’re a unique crocodile found in the Borneo, Sumatra, region of Indonesia, or in Malaysia. From what I know, you won’t find them in the mainland.

The structure of these pools required either an in-situ concrete or a spray concrete. We chose shotcrete because of the freeform design; which you can see these unusual shape. That gives us a chance to not only meet the needs of those shapes, but then to even sculpt those rocks before we do our finish coats. We usually do a mortar render or some other render.

And so integral to that is the waterproofing. The shotcrete matrix itself is waterproofed … adding different products like MARKHAM’s and we use this system, the majority of the MARKHAM system in the waterproofing of this structure. In both the VP’s, which are the viewing panel rebates; as well as the floors, which were done, formed first. And then as well the shotcrete structure vertically that you see in the background.

So we have the AQURON 300 as our base, going into the batch plant mix design, into the shotcrete mix, in the in-situ poured concretes. And then we, as well, we’ll be using the… throughout the entire structure of the pools for the aquariums, the topical AQURON 2000, which is applied by MARKHAM’s applicators for the system. And then additionally we are using ourselves AQURON 300 within the border renders, and our different cementitious renders; flooring compounds and things like that; to get additional waterproofing of the final skin in here before sealing. We had used some of that AQURON 1200 sealer throughout, sort of randomly, in this exhibit, for different reasons.

So yes, it was a complete system with MARKHAM to meet the challenges of the waterproofing of the structure. As well as, the joineries which we used the CONQOR 47B product, slow-swelling tape, which was critical because there were certain areas where we knew our interfaces with the concrete could be less, and others where they were quite generous, so we knew we were covered then; we wouldn’t have expansion blowouts or other issues; and yet we get the swelling we needed to stop any… Especially with the floor, because the floor was poured. We have a sprayed shell on that, it’s cold-joint. So it’s a real critical point to have all these integral waterproofing aspects built into it, so we have a lot less internal work to do beyond that.

CHARLES: How did the waterproofing go compared to what you thought it would do?

DARIN: For the show of the aquarium that are in the middle of this room, and this Tomistoma pool and the fish you see… Generally, the MARKHAM system works really well if you can control all aspects of the construction process – very nicely. We did find it a bit of a challenge sometimes to meet with other subcontractors and different consultants; to meet some of those challenges on either timing, or related to the construction process, or methods. And sometimes that can compromise you, and there’s always something to learn there. But without those waterproofing products we would be left for quite a hard road. So it did make it easier to come back in later and do some remedials to… when we wanted to make sure this was finally watertight, to the expectations and the warranty that the client expected?

CHARLES: So did you feel that you got the balance right between the natural habitat look and the waterproofing performance?

DARIN: Yes, absolutely. And in fact, the AQURON 300 – what I’ve learned with it generally is, when it’s in the water mixes or in the shotcrete, or even the in-situ concrete mixes – if we’re able to utilise that; meaning, tool it or anything of that nature; create shapes, even just off the gun in shotcrete, for instance, it has more flow-ability. It has a bit more elasticity, it allows us to do a lot.

CHARLES: Awesome! Well, thanks very much for that. It’s been great working with you, Darin. Much appreciated!

DARIN: Yes, yes. Hopefully there’s more. It’s nice to have a company in New Zealand that has a whole system, that has managed to piece together some different products that they found, as well as ones they’ve created. And continue to create – I can see that coming up. And I just wanted more surety for clients. We tend to put the extra layers in, and the more layers there are, the more it gives us a sense of relief. And then you can focus on, well, at least we can focus on art. And then the clients or whoever can receive just what they want to see, versus worrying about what’s behind the curtain all the time, or wondering what’s going to come later.

CHARLES: Exactly right.

DARIN: This is a dome structure. It’s internal, it’s very humid in here. It’s a real test – test of the durability of all the materials, external and internal. And all the pressures from things that you see around here; the plants, the trees, in the gardens and so on. So it should be an interesting canvas test case study.

CHARLES: Sure. Yes. Great job! You’ve done awesome work, Darin. Congrats! Thanks.

DARIN: Yes. Thanks. It’s good to have you guys helping us.

Learn more about MARKHAM waterproofing systems here!

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