Schinkelplatz, Berlin

Friedrichswerder Church: No cracks as a result of construction

FRANKONIA Eurobau is building in the immediate vicinity of Karl. F. Schinkel’s Friedrichswerder Church on Schinkelplatz. The new building is being constructed between the Church and the Bauakademie (School of Architecture) and opposite Berliner Stadtschloss (Berlin City Palace). Niederlagstraße and a footpath separate the Church, which is a listed building, from the building site. The municipal building regulations define the necessary distance from the Church based in its historical significance, taking into account technical, design and social aspects. The project will be constructed according to the prescribed zoning and all approvals are already in place. The church authorities and an independent surveyor have confirmed that the now visible cracks were caused either by variations in temperature or a lack of restoration work.

Due to problems caused by a previous building project on the west side of the church, extensive new safety measures have been introduced for the Schinkel site. On the west side there is no road separating the church from the other building. Making that building – unlike the Frankonia building – directly adjacent to the church. Before construction began, Frankonia had highly sensitive measuring systems installed in the church to monitor the building and established a message and alarm system leading to an immediate halt on construction should borderline or dangerous levels be exceeded. Frankonia’s instruments supplement the existing state monitoring system. Thus, the possible effects of the construction process are doubly recorded, assessed and evaluated. In addition, approved surveyors visit the church daily to ensure that small cracks are detected and analysed immediately. The community and the church foundation approved entry to the church to carry out these measures. No other historic building in Berlin is subject to such safety precautions. Early detection before possible damage can occur is at the centre of these measures and in the interests of all concerned.

The daily logs and measuring systems provide ongoing proof that the intensive preparations were necessary. So far, none of the highly sensitive systems has triggered an alarm. Frankonia has already completed work on the elaborate diaphragm walls. Based on a technically highly optimized foundation system – developed in cooperation with the conservation authorities and in coordination with the church authorities – the diaphragm walls were set 15 meters deep into the ground. In this way the foundations of the Frankonia project differ from the project on the west side. The diaphragm walls to secure the foundations and shield the building from vibrations in the soil are deeper and much more stable. In the next step, the base of the foundations will be created using a high-pressure injection process and completed by the end of March. The advantage of this method is that larger stabilisation blocks can be created in the ground using a relatively small drill port (about 15 cm in diameter). The process is particularly gentle on the surrounding buildings or when reinforcing the foundations, which is why it is used in such delicate buildings as the Gemäldegalerie, Berlin; Palais Leopold, Munich or the E.T.A. Hoffmann Theater, Bamberg. Both Frankonia and the state conservation authorities have taken every technical measure possible to protect the church.

26 February 2016