The building you can see in the photo caught my attention during my visit to Cracow. It houses the “Manggha” museum of Japanese art and technology. The building was built in the 1990s and has attracted a lot of acclaim. In 2006, it was part of the competition “Poland. Icons of Architecture”, and it ranked among the top twenty most interesting architectural projects realized in Poland after 1989.

Unfortunately, only a decade after receiving such honourable award, as seen through the eyes of a stonemason, the building is an absolute ruin. One can ask whether it was the relative proximity of the Vistula River that had an adverse effect on the short life of the structure, or whether it was merely the result of poor craftsmanship?

As can be seen in the photographs, the stone is falling off, it is dirty and stained. The granite plinth is dirty, too. In addition, the implementation was only done using glue and not the best one, to boot. There is no anchoring, so the stone elements are simply falling off.

The designer probably did not make the right decision regarding the choice of material and the installation technology. One can clearly see the stone has not even been impregnated prior to its use, which is quite strange in view of the fact that Cracow is a big city and the air there is highly polluted and is, therefore, logically also aggressive towards stone. At the time the building was being constructed, the metallurgical plants in nearby Skawina and Nowa Huta were still in operation, emitting huge amounts of pollutants into the air. The situation could undoubtedly have been improved by impregnation carried out at least ex post – after implemetation.

Yet, not all the mistakes can be attributed solely to the designer. It seems that even the contractor did not approach the work with due care. After all, if the designer underestimates the need to protect the material with an impregnating agent, one still has the opportunity – or rather an obligation – to take proper action. In a few years, surely no one will ask the name of the designer or question impregnation. But everyone will remember the pictures I took. And they will probably think twice before investing in stone for their own project.

In the background of this twenty-year-old building, the nearby ancient Wawel Castle is a beautiful example of the craftsmanship of medieval masons. Therefore, if you are in the process of making an investment decision right now, be sure to pay attention to that modern building and the disastrous result of the stonework carried out.

One cannot but ask the familiar question: Is there a better way?

Source: Kurier kamieniarski

Author: Bogdan Pieprzyk   |   Published: 18 June 2015