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The Brick Walls Need to Dry
Why Kolumba is under scaffolding
Nope, this is not an initiative for our anniversary year: The scaffolding on Kolumba's west facades results from examinations carried out due to the moisture that has been penetrating the exterior walls for the past several years. Findings show that the brick walls, which are up to 60 cm thick and built without separating joints, absorb more moisture when it rains than they can give off in dry periods. Above all in the Museum's three tower rooms, the damage from this unforeseen effect has been visible for quite some time. Together with specialist engineers and the universities of Aachen and Cologne, Swiss architect Peter Zumthor had developed a brickwork proto-type that would seamlessly span across the historical masonry of the ruins of Kolumba Church, which had been destroyed in the war, by using longish, flat tiles from Denmark (Petersen-Tegl) on broad horizontal support joints. Apparently this monolithic brickwork construction does not sufficiently withstand the Rhenish climate with its considerable amounts of driving rain prone to come from the west. In addition, the moisture sensitivity of the inner clay plaster promotes the formation of small efflorescences. Tests currently being undertaken by institutes of building physics will determine possible solutions. Before the problem can be remedied, the scaffolding on the building will remain there to help the west facades dry.
As the Art Museum of the Cologne Archdiocese, we are linking this necessary measure with a promising chance: The scaffolding walls running along the street will be designed by protagonists and artists working in the areas of graffiti, street art, and art in public spaces. This project is being supervised by Leonie Gehrke and Johannes Stahl.