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I often hear lamentations that there is no perspective for stonemasonry. It is mainly connected to the idea that the whole country has already been paved and all buildings have been clad.

Unfortunately, the stonemasonry tradition has got its “hidden and dangerous enemy”. That is the wrong use of material and terrible supervision over the construction works processes. I would like to comment on that with the example of the walk I took on the newly paved 3. maja street in Rzeszów.

I found myself in Rzeszów two weeks after the ceremonial opening of the newly reconstructed street, during which occasion, the town’s mayor greeted the workers with the words: “You’ve got hands of gold, guys!!” Taking into consideration the complimentary reception of this construction among the producers of paving materials, I had decided to evaluate it from a viewer’s position. Unfortunately, I must admit that somebody has been trying really hard to devaluate all the aesthetic properties of the surface.

The stone paving looks as if it has been in use for many years already. The street has not been cleaned at all and the work does not look newly done at all. It is overall the result of the fouling of the whole surface with the pointing material – in this case a mixture of sand and resin. The layer of resin remained on the surface of stone. At some places, the smeared stone and resin make up some kind of plastering that covers the pavement. You can also find lumps of mortar, here and there, that has stuck to the granite surface.

There is a layer of sand from the resin on the cobblestone.

The explanation has been provided, unintentionally, by the very contractor who was working on repairs that day. They were removing several damaged tiles at the moment and replacing them with new ones. After that they started pointing the newly laid tiles. The works were done during the afternoon, on a hot day, when the thermometer was showing 35° C. At this temperature, the resin was solidifying quickly and any contact with stone lead to its immediate fouling. I was also somewhat surprised by the big size of grooves on the newly placed tiles. Nobody paid any attention to it and it did not bother the labourers in their work.

Pointing during the afternoon heat

The way the paving stones were placed was another surprise for me. The mistakes, that were visible by a simple glance, just show the low level of professionalism of the working team of labourers.  The resulting surface looks like the undulated “Waters of Danube”. The mutual position of the stones has not been kept. Another fault is visible on the surface of cobble stones which should, supposedly, have been singed by flame. On the surface, you can see many grainy, cut and split elements. When placing the cobble stones, it is one of the main tasks of the paviours to pick the right cobble stones and place them with the right side up. It is hard to not be under the impression in this case, that the cobble stones have been laid absolutely without any consideration. The final result can, unfortunately, be seen by anybody.

The nightmare of every paviour

Any passer-by, with a little observational skill, can notice that dilatational joints are missing. During my walk, I could see that works connected with the preparation of interstices were under way. Should not the dilatational joints have been done before the construction the final inspection of the construction?

The reactions of the people in Rzeszów, who I have talked with on the street, were the most interesting part. They have pointed out the bad execution of the surface. The majority of the interviewed have expressed the opinion that they would like the other streets to have concrete paving stones the next time because they tend not to be that problematic.

I have heard such mistaken, even dangerous, reactions already many times. It was, nevertheless, always connected to a badly done paving stones laying. I would very much like to believe that the words of the townspeople of Rzeszów will not come true and that stone will still be a guarantee of long lifespan in construction materials.

Damaged newly laid slabs (chipped) 

The view of the newly reconstructed pedestrian area in Rzeszów makes you ask the question: how could this fouled, uneven, and unsightly pavement have been approved by the construction supervision? We prefer not to say the possible answer out loud…

Source: Kurier kamieniarski

Author: Michał Firlej | Published: 08 September 2017