Aula etap III

Stage III (Construction of the matroneum)

The third stage of the works was carried out simultaneously with the second stage – from July to December 2017 – and included the conservation, renovation and strengthening of the balcony structure. The cost of the works amounted to almost PLN 140,000.

The construction works were in large co-financed by the budget of Lower Silesia’s local government.

By the decision of the Province Committee for the Protection of Monuments, which processed the endowment request for the works related to the protection of monuments in the Lower Silesia, the University of Wrocław received one of the highest fundings, i.e. PLN 100,000. After a press conference organised on April 10th of 2017, on which this information was shared with the public, dr Łukasz Krzywka, Rector’s Representative for Conservation of Monuments explained: “The renovation of the balcony is necessary, and that is why we are very happy with the endowment. However, this stage of the works cannot be divided into smaller sections and spread out in time, therefore the missing amount of about PLN 40,000 will be paid by the University. Other stages depend on the completion of this part of the works. One of them is a conservation of the upper coping, on which the city of Wrocław already allocated PLN 1,000,000.

The works on strengthening the matroneum’s structure were carried out simultaneously as works done from scaffolding by two other conservation teams. They were working on paintings and mouldings in a part of the balcony’s coping. The first step was the dismantling of the balcony floorboards. This process was very difficult due to a large number of nails, screws, and other connectors fastening the floorboards to the joists. The screws and nails were removed mechanically, and then the individual boards were numbered and inventoried. The conservators tried to keep – according to conservatory workmanship standards – as many boards in an unimpaired condition.

Aula etap III
Repair and strengthening of the matroneum structure. Photo by Roland Róg

After dismantling the floorboards and transporting them to the carpenter’s workshop, the area under the floor, i.e. between the joists, was thoroughly cleaned of debris, dust, and other soilings, and then impregnated with substances protecting the surface from fungus, wood-destroying insects, and fire. After these treatments, we could start working on strengthening the original wooden supporting structure of the balcony. Specially bonded wood beams were screwed to the joists, and to additionally strengthen the matroneum, four outer areas were strengthened with wooden panels glued in layers. The uncovering of the joists was also an opportunity to replace the electrical installation completely, it also allowed for the installation of a new electric switchboard.

While the construction works on the balcony under scaffolding were being carried out, a complicated process of cleaning and refilling the original floorboards took place in the carpenter’s workshop.

Wide pine boards, which were installed almost 300 years ago, were cleaned manually because the process of mechanical scraping was not possible in this case. After this time-consuming process, all boards were anti-biologically impregnated. The next stage was the carpentry repair of biologically degraded, damaged or significantly weakened areas. All of them were cut out and filled up with inserts of equally old wood of the same type, and then made to match colouristically with the original wooden boards. In the case of boards with biological corrosion exceeding 30%, a decision was made to replace them with new ones. The renovated boards returned to their place in November. One of the last stages of the works was the installation of the new risers, and double scraping of the entire balcony floor. The final effect was achieved after preserving the floor’s surface with oil.

Aula etap III
Cleaning the surfaces between the joists. Photo by Roland Róg
Aula etap III
Scraped floor waiting for oil preservation and installation of metal and glass balustrade. Photo by Dominika Hull/UWr CC BY-NC 2.0

A new element that appeared on the balcony is a metal and glass barrier installed next to the balustrade. The reason for placing it there is the fact that the original wooden balustrade was too low and therefore did not meet the safety regulations. For this reason, among the others, the balcony was available neither for participants of ceremonies taking place in Aula Leopoldina nor for tourists in recent years. The new barrier will bring back the balcony’s primary function.

The contractor of the works was consortium of companies: ANTIQUA Konserwacja Dzieł Sztuki Wit Podczerwiński, and AC Konserwacja Zabytków Piotrowski, Kosakowski sp.j.

Translated by Inga Schulz (student of English Studies at the University of Wrocław) as part of the translation practice.

Projekt „Zintegrowany Program Rozwoju Uniwersytetu Wrocławskiego 2018-2022” współfinansowany ze środków Unii Europejskiej z Europejskiego Funduszu Społecznego

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flaga Rzeczypospolitej Polski
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