Update on the Hirschgrundbrücke Reconstruction Part II: How Art and Craftmanship are bring the bridge back together.

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GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY-  In a follow-up to the last article on the reconstruction of the Hirschgrund Bridge at the Castle Complex in Glauchau, I decided to attend the informational meeting and tour of the bridge, which took place on May 11th at the front court of the castle. This meeting and tour, which was divided up into three different time slots, was part of the Day of Funding and Support sponsored by the State of Saxony, and its main focus is the work that is being done to the castle itself, which started in 2017 and is scheduled to be finished by 2025.  Already finished is the construction of the front court of the castle, which features a series of flower gardens, bike racks, picnic areas and a multifunctional facility that can be used year round, including for ice skating, which is Glauchau’s past time together with its Christmas Market.

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The front court yard of the Castle Complex

This event was also tied in with the city’s first ever arts and crafts fair, which took place inside the castle and included exhibits, workshops and an auction. Due to inclimate weather, comprising of heavy rain and cold weather, the attendance was down across the board. However, we did come away with something for our own best interests- me with bridges, my daughter with arts and my wife with some ideas on how to better the arts and crafts fair. 🙂 Inspite of this, this article is on the bridge itself for based on my meeting with a representative from a construction firm working on the bridge, here are some facts that will need to be taken into account.

For instance, while newspapers and even my own previous reports had mentioned about the bridge being reopened by July, that assumption was proven false, both verbally and on the posters. Right now, if all goes well, the project should be finished and the bridge reopened by the end of November 2019 (this year). There are several factors that contributed to this delay.

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Poster of the project. The upper left-hand corner shows more demo than expected.

The first one has to do with the demolition of the bridge. According to the spokesperson at the meeting, while attempts were made to keep only the foundations and piers of the 1700s- built arch bridge, combined with the two outer arches as part of an agreement with the State Ministry of Culture and Heritage to save them, demolition of the bridge took a little more out than expected as many elements from the original bridge had to be removed because they could no longer be used for the load bearings. That means they were worn out and would not be useful for the reconstruction. A good example of the extensive work on the bridge regarding that aspect can be seen in the picture above.  If this was in American standards, this entire arch bridge would have been completely removed, going against the Historic Preservation Laws that were designed to protect historic structures like this from being destroyed. While the preservation of the outer arches and the piers were a compromise, it should be considered a stroke of luck in the face of modernization, which is becoming the norm in our society, even at our expense.

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With the removal of most of the bridge comes the preservation of more than 12,000 different grey-colored granite stones from the original structure. According to the representative from the construction firm, they will be incorporated, like I mentioned. The question is: how?

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As a facade! 🙂

This would make the best sense especially after my inquiry with the city’s civil engineer who also has been watching this project very closely. As mentioned in the previous article, the bridge is being rebuilt, first starting with the arches, then following with layers of concrete slabs supported by a skeletal system of vertical and horizontal support beams that would hold the bridge in place. The stones from the previous structure would be used as both decking as well as for the facade. While the reconstruction of the arch bridges will not be in-kind, meaning rebuilding it just like building the arch bridge from scratch beginning with the arches and then filling them in, layer by layer, the use of the skeletal system with concrete support beams as a skeleton will ensure that the new bridge will be sturdier than its original predecessor. I learned that in 2004, wooden support beams were put into place underneath the arches to keep them from collapsing. While this would have been considered useless if the bridge was coming down anyway, it did keep the bridge intact, thus helping the construction workers save as much of the materials for the rebuild as possible. Otherwise, allowing the bridge to sit derelict and let it collapse would not only eliminate that possibility, it would have been dangerous to even approach it.

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Granted that there is wooden support for all four of the bridge’s arches for the new structure, yet they were meant for building the two inner arches from the ground up and reinforcing the outer arches- for the former, they were following the recipe Romans used when building their arch bridges during their peak in power.

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Close-up of the truss supports for the arches.

With that comes the skeletal system and the layered concrete, which brings up another interesting fact I learned at the meeting. The vertical beams mentioned in the previous article feature a combination of concrete with steel wiring. This concept is often used for American bridges, in particular, with beam bridges. In Germany, it is hardly spoken of for the majority of modern bridges built after 1945 have focused solely on steel, fabricated from the mills in western Germany as well as parts of Saxony, Saxony-Anhalt and Brandenburg in the east.  With very few quarries, concrete is used rationally- mainly for abutments, piers and decking- much of it with other materials. In this case, the vertical beams have the American style of steel wiring drowned with concrete with the wiring sticking out. The main purpose here is as the concrete layers are built up, the top layer will be covered with a decking made of stone and concrete, providing a sturdy crossing for years to come.

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Add railings of up to 1.7 meters high to ensure the safety of those crossing it, the bridge will have a width of 3.7 meters and a total length of 55.3 meters from the castle to the park, with LED lighting, making the new crossing an attractive site in addition to the castle itself.  The bridge will be 9 meters tall, a few centimeters taller than its was before the complete makeover started last year.

While there were only a few people at each of the three tours in the morning due to the weather, most were eager to know more about the project and even some of them shared some memories of crossing the bridge before it was closed off due for safety reasons many years ago. Many had a chance to ask the representative more in details about what was being done with the bridge with a lot of curiosity. The atmosphere was mostly positive when I was there. But all had one thing in common- they would love to see their bridge back as it is part of the Castle Complex, connects with the park and is part of Glauchau’s history in general. In November of this year, this will come true.

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fast fact logo There are three projects that are going on around Glauchau’s Castle Complex- all of them being funded by the state. The front courtyard at the castle’s entrance was finished in December, right in time for the Christmas market. The bridge will be finished by the end of November. The third project scheduled to begin in 2020 will be redeveloping the grounds inside the castle as much of the markets and festivals take place there. That project is expected to last 2-3 years.

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T-shirts and apparel with the theme of the bridges along the Zwickau Mulde, with exemplaries of the ones in Glauchau, Zwickau and Rochlitz can be found in the online shop via word press. Click here and order one today. 🙂

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Update on the Hirschgrundbrücke Reconstruction

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GLAUCHAU (SAXONY), GERMANY- Last week in the Chronicles’ Instagram page, there were a pair of photos of the progress that is being made with the Hirschgrund Viaduct, a multiple-span arch bridge spanning the ravine at the castle complex south of Glauchau’s city center. As I’ve been reporting up until now, the original bridge dating to the 1700s is being rebuilt after having sat abandoned for over four decades and having been in danger of collapsing under its own weight. With spring in the air, I took an opportunity to get a closer look at the bridge, apart from my usual vantage points, which were from both ends of the bridge. With all the scaffolding that has “encased” the bridge, this was the closest way to find out how it has progressed since my “sniper” shot of the red arches taken in the fall on the eve of a concert at St. George’s Church.

Then:

Now:

And with that I found a couple observations worth noting:

  1. The bridge was being layered with slabs of concrete, bit by bit, filling in the arches and making its way up.
  2. There was a pile of stones that are on the eastern side of the bridge- assumedly salvaged from the old structure and waiting to be reused and
  3. More curiously, vertical posts were sticking out between the arches.

With number 3, I wanted to find out what they were used for, so I got ahold of the city and one of the engineers for an inquiry. This is what I received for an explanation per e-mail (after having it translated):

The load-bearing system of the bridge consists of transverse walls on the piers and self-supporting longitudinal walls, which are then veneered. The inside of the bridge is filled with lightweight porous concrete.

In simpler languages, the newly-rebuilt bridge will have a skeletal system featuring horizontal slabs supported by the vertical piers planted between the arches. All of them will be covered in layers of concrete and then masked to make it appear historic like its original form. Should this be the case, it would not be the “in-kind” restoration of an arch bridge, meaning building it beginning with the arch and then in layers, stone-by-stone and then filled in to make sure the structure is stabilized. Yet it would represent the modern form of restoring the bridge, as it has been seen with some of the bridges restored in Germany, including those in Thuringia, Berlin and Bavaria. That would still make the arch bridge historic but with “braces” to ensure it lasts longer and is able to withstand the increasing weight and number in traffic. With the Hirschgrundbrücke itself, when reopened, it will serve pedestrians, connecting the castle complex and the park across the ravine.

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The future of the original stones from the bridge is unknown.

While there is no concrete date as to when the project will be finished and when the grand “re-opening” will take place, there are some other curious facts that will be mentioned in a tour that is scheduled to take place this weekend. On May 11th at 10:15, 11:00 and 11:45 there will be a tour of the construction site with many questions and photo sessions available. This is all part of the informational Meeting at the Castle Complex that will include what has been completed and what will be the next phases in renovating the castle- namely the grounds and the park. All of which will start at 10 and be finished after 12:00. A link to the page can be found here.

In either case, more updates on the Hirschgrundbrücke will come in the Chronicles. Stay tuned. In case you haven’t taken a look at Glauchau’s Bridge tour guide, check out this and others by clicking here.

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 47

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Our 46th pic of the week you will find on the Chronicles’s facebook page. With a setting like this on the eve of spring with leaves blossoming and all, this structure definitely deserves some attention, especially given the fact that it has come off a fresh rehabilitation.

The structure is located at Floßplatz and Heidelbach at the mill and dam, spanning the River Zschopau between Warmbad and Wolkenstein. It was built in 1828 using sandstone and other minerals and is a one-span arch bridge. Flood damage in 2013 forced its closure and it wasn’t until 2017 when the bridge was finally restored, but at a steep cost of 2.2 million Euros. The structure is open to traffic but only one lane and preferrably with anything OTHER than a car for one can make it on the other side but just barely.

Nevertheless, the bridge has several backdrops where one can photograph from different angles. I have a couple more to back this up. The bridge is a real diamond in the rough if you pass on by going from Chemnitz to the Czech border and beyond. One will need a good bike tour to catch this beauty in full. 🙂

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 45

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To tie in the full moon with spring time, here’s a skyline shot of the city of Aue at the time of the Supermoon, taken last month. In the foreground is the Schiller Bridge and the moon shines directly onto the Zwickau Mulde River. The Erzgebirge version of Venice is located at the junction of that and the Schwarzwasser River and has a history of bridge building that goes back two centuries. Have a look at the tour guide here. The photo was taken from the Viaduct which spans the river and the tracks of the Aue-Zwickau line which branches off into one going to Johanngeorgenstadt and another to Chemnitz. That viaduct is scheduled to be rehabbed beginning this May.

The Chronicles would like to wish you and yours a Happy Easter. Enjoy the beautiful weather, wherever you are. ❤ 😀

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Mystery Bridge Nr. 112: A double-barreled concrete bridge that used to serve a major road?

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This is the first video podcast of the bridge. The bridge is between 90 and 110 years old, spans a tributary of the River Zschopau south of Wolkenstein in central Saxony in the suburb of Niederau. The rest can be found by clicking here.

Video:

Map:

 

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Questions:

1. When was the bridge built? Who was the bridge builder?

2. What kind of road did it serve and what industries existed in the area of the bridge?

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 44

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Albeit modern in itself, the next Pic of the Week takes us only a couple kilometers downstream along the Preissnitz before emptying into the Elbe at this crossing. The Waldschlösschen Bridge is one of the fanciest bridges spanning the Elbe in Dresden. The multiple-span viaduct with V-shaped piers and a steel pony arch main span was also known as one of the most controversial bridges ever built in Germany, comparing it to the major projects that were ongoing at that time, like the Stuttgart 21 Project (which is set to open by 2023) and Berlin-Brandenburg International Airport (BER- still ongoing after 13 years). From the decision to build the bridge in 2005 until its final completion in 2013, it took several court cases, the recognition and rescinding of the World Heritage site by UNESCO, over a dozen bridge design drafts and a tunnel on the eastern side before the bridge was finally put together- a span of eight years.

Yet when biking along the River Elbe through Dresden, when looking at the bridge, one may see it as a modern eyesore that should not have been built but was a necessity to relieve traffic at the nearest bridges which are both over a century old. Yet when adding the landscape and all the buildings that went along with that, it does conform to the scenery quite well. In the day time, the bridge is surrounded by a lot of green. Yet at night, as you can see in the picture, it presents several shades of dark blue, with white  lighting from the bridge’s  deck reflecting off the River Elbe. The lighting is all LED but they move randomly, based on the cars that cross it in one direction.  The shot was taken right after the sun set with he clouds covering the area.

There is a book that was written on the bridge and its construction. That will be profiled later on in the Dresden series. In the meantime, enjoy the evening pic. 🙂

 

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BHC Pic of the Week Nr. 43

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The 43rd pic of the week takes us back to Dresden, but this time in the Dresdner Heide, a region covered with hilly forests where several small streams, including one that has the smallest waterfall in all of Germany, merge to form the River Priessnitz. That river snakes its way approximately 10 kilometers into the River Elbe near the Waldschlößchenbrücke, dodging past many houses and appartment complexes, flanked by trees and beautiful landscapes.

One can be amazed by the number of historic bridges, one will stumble upon while walking along the small river. This includes the largest of them all, the Carolabrücke. Built in 1876, this three-span, closed spandrel arch bridge, built using sandstone, can be found at Stauffenberg-Allee. The bridge is 82 meters long and spans the Priessnitzer Grund that is as deep as 23 meters. The structure was thoroughly rehabilitated in 2003, where new decking covered the arches and is 2.7 meters wider than its original width of 17.3 meters.

In this picture, one can see the 23 meter tall viaduct that has stood the test of time, covered in many shades of colors through graffiti. Yet despite having countless amounts of traffic crossing it daily, the bridge has a sense of serenity surrounded by the sound of water, as the Priessnitz makes its way to the Elbe. Along the stretch of what is called Priessnitzer Grund, there are a series of concrete statues of approximately 1.5 meters tall, all lined up along the river opposite the trail. Each design depicts a historical or fairy tale form, although it is unknown who made the sculptures, except to say that they appear to be at least a century old. Anyone that knows any information on them are free to comment at the end of the article. This photo was taken at spring time right before the trees started budding, which could not have come at a better time. As the bridge is surrounded by trees and other vegetation, making the photo opportunity practically impossible, the best time to photograph this bridge would have to be when all the leaves are off the trees- hence winter time upto the time the trees start blossoming.

One hint to the photographer when getting to this bridge: The Carolabrücke at Priessnitzer Grund is located in Dresden-Neustadt, between the districts of Albertstadt and Äussere Neustadt. In the Dresden-Neustadt, parking is the most notorious for the streets are very narrow- too narrow for even trucks to pass through and very slim for even the average car in Germany. Parking is most difficult to find for all residents have to park them on the street. When driving through there, please do so at a snail’s pace for safety reasons and to avoid damage to your car as well as to the others’. If you do find one nearby, park it and hoof it to the bridge, for the only way to the bridge is via hiking path along the Priessnitz. It may be a walk and a half but it’s worth the exercise. 🙂

 

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