2013– | Copenhagen, Denmark
Project: Natural Stone Preservation
Built: 2013- present
Client: The Agency for Palaces and Cultural Properties
The Agency for Palaces and Cultural Properties are, with their administration of the royal palaces and – parks, in charge of a substantial number of the national monuments of Denmark. The Palaces are ‘Gesamtkunstwerken’ whose understanding is deeply rooted in their architecture, horticulture and sculpture both interior and exterior wise. The natural stone work of the palace facades are of a particular importance in this context.
In the upcoming 15-25 years there will be a critical need to maintain and restore a number of natural stone works on the building facades. This includes structural stone as well as decorative stonework. The task involves devising a strategy going forwards and planning for future works. This includes an extensive mapping of national competences, market conditions and technological development within the field both in Denmark and internationally.
The Sculptures and the decorative elements are mainly carved in sand stone and have primarily served the purpose of stating the autocracy and the power of the king together with the remaining estate. The sculptures depict the Roman and Greek mythology along with ancient rulers and war lords. Their iconography and allegories are significant elements in the interpretation and experience of the estates. The decoration reflects the contemporary style movements which were present all around Europe. However one finds subtle shifts between the different nationalities.
The decorations are primarily carved in the era between 1500 and late 1700. With a few exceptions, they were all crafted in Denmark by skilled artisans travelling from abroad. The sculptures, decorative elements and the more prevalent structural stonework are mainly carved from a sand stone from Gotland, which unfortunately has a limited lifespan within the Danish climate. The first signs of deterioration of the stone can be seen only a few years after completion. However, this varies, depending on the quality of the sand stone and if sourced from Gotland can last for anything between 20 to 200 years.
Throughout the history of the palaces, the natural stone work has been continuously maintained, renovated and replaced. Despite consistent attempts to stand the test of time it has not been possible to keep up with the inevitable decay of the natural stonework. The decomposition process can at best be slowed down but never stopped. Despite numerous renovations and replacements over time the general situation today is critical. Further renovation or life expanding treatments of the existing stonework is pointless. The decomposition is accelerating and sculptures and decorations are rapidly losing their shape and cultural value as a result. The need is imminent for measures to be taken to deal with the gigantic backlog of decrepit stonework which has developed over the past decades.