Entrance to Warsaw Palace.

 

Detail of stone surround at entryway.

 

Throne Room at Warsaw Palace.

8 December 1997

In Warsaw, buildings received some of the heaviest destruction of World War II; virtually nothing remained. When reconstruction efforts began, stones which could be recovered and identified were placed back in their original locations. These pieces ranged in size from entire lintels to small fragments from the stones of door and window surrounds. When only a fragment exists, the missing portion is carved anew, incorporating the fragment as a kind of dutchman repair. The effect can be extraordinary. Small fragments of weathered and battered stone, perhaps totaling no more than 5-10% of a door surround, create a composition of humility in a field of freshly cut stone. Only the vaguest knowledge of the city's history is needed to deduce their meaning.

You may think that all of this sounds a bit like 1960s/70s preservation-textbook idealism. That's not my intent at all and I deny the parallel. The buildings in Poland are the first I have seen to use this repair method to great effect. Maybe it's success is rooted in Poland's seemingly cyclical history of war, aftermath and recovery. That story is audibly recalled every hour in Krakow. The building stones echo those scars.

 

Warsaw, page 2

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