FRANCE - Czech Embassy, Paris

tabulka pariz

Address: 15, Avenue Charles Floquet, Paris, France
Description of work:
Restoration of stone facade
Restoration of plaster reliefs
Restoration of paintings
Contractor: GEMA ART GROUP a.s.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Czech Republic
Implementation: 2000 - 2004




  Replica of the embassy Work in progress Overall view of  the embassy Overall view of  the embassy Interior - after restoration Interior - after restoration Interior - after restoration Interior - after restoration Interior - after restoration Interior - after restoration Hall - new-found oil painting Hall of marbles Historical facilities Historical lamp - after restoration Golden stucco decoration Golden stucco decoration Wood boiserie - before restoration Wood boiserie - after restoration

  • Restoration work
  • History
  • More information

The restoration work on the exterior consisted mostly of the renovation of the stone facade with its plaster reliefs and alternating surfaces of local auriform limestone and cast stone.
The interior restoration mainly dealt with the stucco adornments on the walls, stripping secondary layers of paint and finish and cleaning and restoring oil paintings. After the treatment and stabilization of the surface a color scheme for the rooms and the hall that was in concurrence with the architectural design of the building was decided upon.
During removal of secondary layers of paint from the walls of a room on the 4th floor, there was an unexpected discovery of an original oil painting in the genre of the period. It was restored. The interior restoration work also included the renovation and partial replacement of windows and doors including fittings, wood mosaics inlaid in the floors, a stone staircase and marble floors and walls.
This job was interesting for our company not only because it provided a comprehensive challenge to almost all the different professions in restoration work, but also for the challenge it posed to the other craftsmen as well. For instance, we had to replicate the historical facade for the new addition, we took part in making the extension of the spiral hollow newel staircase, made a new crown cornice from cast stone as well as the framework for a new concrete ring of the building.

Restoration of the fireplaces:
The components of the fireplaces in the building were all one-of-a-kind pieces produced in a workshop, and in almost all cases they have more than one kind of marble. Some of them are decorated with metalwork reliefs. All of them are lined with terracotta bricks, which adjoin the marble mantle and floor inlay that surrounds the front of the hearth. Brass fire screens and cast-iron baskets are features of some of them. Intricate cast-iron linings are mounted on the visible interior walls of the fireplaces, or the front is protected by a cast-iron or ceramic molding behind which is a three-ply metal curtain.
In the process of the restoration a bricked-up fireplace which was in very bad condition was found behind one of the interior walls. It was perforated and structurally damaged in a few places. The fireplace was disassembled and after restoration, given a place in the project design.
The stone surfaces of the fireplaces and the mantle pieces heavily soiled had been preserved with coats of wax polish. The shine of the stone was gone and the surfaces were deeply and severely pocked. In a few cases parts of the ornamental decorations were missing. The marble mantle pieces and floor inlays were mostly cracked. The metal curtains were almost all warped and not in working condition. The cast-iron elements showed signs of corrosion and were very dirty. The interior fire-clay brickwork was in a state of disrepair.
First the lintels of the fireplaces were removed, given a deep cleaning, puttied, re-brushed and re-shined. The interior brickwork was taken apart and the fire-clay bricks were cleaned and put back into place. The terracotta bricks were replaced with new ones. The mechanics of the metal curtains were repaired as well as the deformed lamellas. The intricate brass fittings were cleaned and remounted. Due to the fact that they were heavily damaged, most of the cast-iron components had to be replaced. The new parts for the mantle pieces and the floor inlays were cut from white Carrar marble and flush-mounted, along with the original pieces, with the new floor. After applying grout, the whole surface was given a soft, polished shine with a protective, filtering paste.
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Restoration of the oil paintings:
During removal of secondary layers of paint from the walls, there was an unexpected discovery of an original oil painting in the genre of the period.
The entire surface of the painting was covered with a thick layer of different oil binders and sealants that acted as a base for the color scheme for the entire room.
On the basis of consultation with the investor it was decided that the whole scheme would be completely restored. After a difficult cleaning of all secondary layers and stabilization of the base, the work was renovated in a way that allowed the work of the original artist to show through.
The general expression of the work was enhanced by the addition of unctuous molding with an acanthine leaf motif which framed in the entire work to form an artistic whole. This creative work dominates the entire space.
The walls of the cafeteria were modified as well, with oil-painted wood graining that was applied to the original wooden wall coverings of the room.
The oil painting - after restoration The oil painting - after restoration After restoration
Restoration of the stone staircase:
The hollow newel spiral staircase in the front part of the left wing of the building starts on the ground floor and ends on the fifth. On each floor, the spiral is interrupted for the stair landings with bordered skirts. The staircase is composed of individual treads that are adorned with light ocher-colored slabs of solid, hard, local limestone cut with a simple profile. The risers have a split profile. On the outer edge the staircase is bordered with a skirting board. Between the 4th and 5th floors a new flight was fastened to the staircase.
The completely useless skirting board was dismantled and replaced with plastered-over brickwork. Surface coatings on the staircase were mechanically removed. The crumbling grouting on the frame and landings was replaced with a mineral-based grout. The steps on the first and last flights were replaced using slabs cut from identical local hard limestone. The surface of the staircase was impregnated with a stone sealant.
The showcase staircase in the entrance hall of the building was covered with several coats of synthetic oil and acrylic compounds, and that includes the decorative elements. After the carpet was removed it was necessary to strip layers of shellac and chemical adhesives which had anchored the carpet to the staircase. On the 2nd floor landing about one square meter of stone floor tiles had to be replaced with tiles from the identical stone. The entire staircase was re-grouted and puttied. To finish up, new brass anchors for the carpet were installed.
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Restoration of the stucco work and reliefs:
The surfaces of all of the sculpted adornments and reliefs on the embassy' s facade were encrusted. In the past this problem had been solved by applying a coat of an oil and lime mixture.
One part of the building has an overhung entrance portal with a steel-frame glass awning attached to its cornice, above it is a balcony with a balustrade. The decorative elements of the portal are made from a plaster and stucco compound that imitates natural lime. The imitation even includes grooves that look like chinks between blocks of stone. Corroded sheet metal failed to impede the seepage of rainwater into the faux lime which resulted in the degradation of the cornice work and its adjoining elements.
The degraded and missing parts were filled in and replaced with a mineralbased putty, the intricate pieces were remodeled, the color was touched up and the surface was waterproofed. The twenty inset plaster reliefs that decorate the building sustained serious damage due to its exposure to the environment. The degradation of the plaster materials manifested itself through the numerous cracks and the loss of cohesion and ended in the scaling off of entire sections of the reliefs. The damaged and missing parts were remodeled using putty. In the particular case of the relief with a hunting motif on the northern side of the building it was decided to completely replace it. A plaster impression was taken from an identical relief that was in better shape and with the help of this impression, a new relief was poured.
The biggest sculpted element, a composition of a dog and a swan on the lower southeast facade was made of plaster of Paris with inner reinforcement. The sculpture was carefully cleaned; the lime and oil compound that had encrusted the surface was removed. It was reinforced and the color was touched up, the missing parts were remodeled, some corroded reinforcements had to be replaced. To complete the work it was waterproofed and given a marble-surface shine.
Detail of relief - after restoration Detail of relief - after restoration Detail of relief - after restoration Detail of relief - after restoration Detail of relief - after restoration Detail of relief - after restoration Detail of relief - after restoration Detail of relief - after restoration Decorative stucco in the interior - after restoration Golden stucco decoration Golden stucco decoration Golden stucco decoration
Structural restoration:
During the reconstruction of the exterior the main task was how structurally reinforce the crown cornice with steel. The analysis that was made of the cornice along its entire height and width showed that the stone building blocks were in some places only along the crown of the wall and that the rest of the construction was of other materials. Due to this analysis we decided to disassemble the cornice.
A plaster cast was made of the entire surface of the crown cornice, including the tooth ornamentation on the visible side while the cornice was still in place on the building – the best way of ensuring that we get a perfect replica of it.
Before removal molds were made of curvatures and various parts of the cornice, then it was disassembled. After consultation with a structural engineer, it was decided that the new cornice would be designed from concrete and would form the missing cornice boarding and act as an anchor for the new concrete crown.
The visible parts of the concrete shell were made from mineral-based cast stone that perfectly imitates the stone of the building. The shell was made in lengths approximately a meter long and was constructed in such a way that it is possible to interlock the separate segments and insert the reinforcement for the new concrete crown.
Czech Embassy building - after reconstruction Czech Embassy building - work in progress Czech Embassy building - after reconstruction

On progress.