On 25 February 2017, a master exam will be held in the stonemasonry profession. Interestingly, none of the residents of Strzegom – the traditional “heart” of Poland’s granite production – is taking part in the exam, though it will be held in their own town. Perhaps there are all masters there in Strzegom so they do not need any certificates for that…

Yet, the pieces of stonework to be admired in the town prove something else. And it is the stairs that scare me off the most. Why is that? Just take a look at the photos. They only show a single one frontage of the Granite Heart of Poland’s main square.

To describe this, one is literally struggling for words. There are examples in here of how everything can go wrong. The stairs are badly designed. There is no account whatsoever for the slope of the terrain. The thickness of the material is wrong so that the stairs will chip. There is complete lack of any grooves or undercuts that would prevent the individual elements from shifting against each other. The surface is poorly finished and the stairs become dangerously slippery in case there is just a little water there. And even the use of anti-skid strips, which are also poorly made, will be of no help. The narrow straps recessed in the polished material will not fulfil their function because anytime you put your foot on such a step, you tread on a slippery polished surface.

There could be a lot longer list of shortcomings, not ignoring the aesthetic flaws including the lack of properly finishing the sides at the forefront.

It is a fairly sad view because facing stairs are really not much cheaper than block stairs. And properly designed block stairs will survive for decades – such as the staircase in front of the Strzegom town hall, which is probably the only example of a well-done job in this area.

It is surely hard to expect shortage of material for making a decent stone staircase in a traditional centre of the stone industry.

Whether it is lack of knowledge or skills it is hard to say. The result is what you can see. And one needs to ask again: is there a better way?

Source: Kurier kamieniarski

Author: Bogusław Skolak   |   Published: 6 March 2017