What is the purpose of the Palace Workshop?
In 2002, the German parliament approved the reconstruction of the three Baroque outer facades and the cupola of the Berlin Palace, and the three Baroque facades of the Schlüterhof courtyard. A decision was made not to rebuild two original features: the transverse building between the Schlüterhof and Eosanderhof courtyards and the Renaissance wing on the eastern side along the River Spree. Reconstructing the palace facades will foreground the exceptional artistic achievement of Andreas Schlüter, the Baroque master builder – and architectural and sculptural decorative elements are of vital importance for this reconstruction.
In summer 2011, the Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss set up the Palace Workshop in the city’s Spandau district – housed in a building once used by the Allied forces as a vehicle repair workshop – to carry out work on the decorative elements of the facades.
The Palace Workshop: performing a wide variety of tasks
The Stiftung Humboldt Forum im Berliner Schloss set up the Palace Workshop in 2011, adopting the structure of a traditional construction workshop. Analyses by art historians of surviving decorative elements from the original facade were supplemented by authentic documents and photographs, enabling the sculptors, stucco masons and stonemasons involved in the project to produce precise replicas of Schlüter’s Baroque style.
Since then, piece for piece, the sculptors have been shaping the decorative elements – some of them colossal – of the Baroque facade and casting them in plaster. This includes the models for the entire facade, the eagles from the mezzanine level, and an abundance of consoles, cartouches and capitals. In a final step, the plaster casts are carved in sandstone using the time-honoured hammer and pointwork technique. Some of the larger heraldic cartouches have been produced in the sculptors’ own studios.
For the modelling, traditional craftsmanship is being aided by high-tech processes and materials. For example, sections of the surviving entrance Portal IV, which had been integrated into the nearby Staatsratsgebäude, were duplicated as a model for the sculptors by means of 3D printing. In addition, restorers are hard at work on the remaining original sculptures and fragments, which will then either be incorporated into the facade or displayed in the sculpture room of the Humboldt Forum. An expert commission comprising art historians and other specialists will appraise the completed models and sculptures in conjunction with the sculptors.