Restoration of the exterior facades of the Banco de España complex in Madrid
The work on the façades of the Banco de España (Bank of Spain) in Madrid has recently been completed. This building was built during successive phases and an extension was later added, until the current structure and configuration were completed. The oldest elements of the building date from 1884, which means that some of the constructive solutions adopted already have significant ailments and pathologies due to the passage of time and inclement weather. The worst preserved areas are the coronations of the walls, the mansards and the cornices, because they are more exposed to wind and rain. The most striking aesthetic characteristic of this building, according to the architect who designed the restoration, its chromatic vibration. This effect is produced thanks to the combination of different natural stones in its composition (granite from Guadarrama and Alpedrete, limestone from Alconera, and Carrara marble).
Photograph 1. The variety of stone materials on the facade of the Banco de España creates the “chromatic vibration” that makes it unmistakable
KALAM has already worked on this building, in 2006 to clean part of the façades. This time, the entity has once again relied on our team for a much more thorough project. The work carried out includes protecting the cornices with zinc, consolidating the stone, modillions, sculptural groups, restoration of the foundry elements, work to improve the lighting and all the wiring that runs discreetly along its façades.
Photographs 2 and 3. Scaffolding placed in the chaflán de Cibeles during the work. this scaffold was removed as soon as this part of the façade was completed, to minimize the impact of the image of the building for the public.
Due to the relevance of the building, the large number of workers who work inside it every day and its strategic location, many tasks have had to be completed at night or on weekends in order to interfere as little as possible with its proper functioning and the collective image that this property represents for the citizens of Madrid. There have had to be some lane closings on streets as busy as the Paseo del Prado in order to assemble some of the large scaffolds required to correctly execute these works.
Photographs 4 and 5. façade facing Paseo del Prado during the work. one lane of this street was closed during the assembly and dismantling of the scaffolding.
The work was carried out by a team of professionals specialized in the various trades required for the intervention. Master masons, restorers, painters, experts in zinc, etc. It was made clear to each of them what their tasks were and their actions were perfectly coordinated throughout the execution of the work to optimize the time required for the work and meet deadlines.
First, there was a manual dry cleaning of the building carried out with tools such as scalpels, small spatulas, scrapers, etc. This cleaning is done with the help of medium pressure air or controlled suction.
Next, the façade was cleaned with controlled pressure water to remove residue detached during the first cleaning and to eliminate dust and dirt generated by the typical air in a city as busy and contaminated as Madrid. Spot cleanings are also carried out with dry projection of a controlled pressure abrasive.
Photographs 6, 7, 8 and 9. decorative elements on the façade before and after cleaning.
Consolidation of the stone
The consolidation work was complete. It began with the thorough detection of detached or at-risk pieces. The passage of time, together with the aggression of the rain and wind had created significant flaws that were carefully treated by expert hands. Many kinds of tasks were carried out to ensure the stability and durability of the banisters, cornices, modillions or sculptural groups, such as consolidations with mortar, with rods, stapling, anchors, etc.
Photographs 10, 11 and 12. Consolidation work in railings and cornices
The characteristic modillions under the cornice of the Bank of Spain building are one of the most recognizable elements of this façade.
Photographs 13 and 14. Modillions on the façade of the Banco de España
Many of the modillions were found to be fractured or at risk of detachment. Therefore, after a meticulous analysis, the most suitable technique for each case was applied.
The extraction of the oxidized metal gauges was carried out using a horizontal cut between the point of attachment between the modillion and the subsequent one, sewn to the cornice with stainless steel rods fixed with resin.
Photographs 15, 16 and 17. Modillions attached with epoxy resin rods and staples to consolidate their stability.
In those cases with even greater risk of detachment, or even in some cases where the modillion had already detached from the cornice, they were replaced by similar pieces of the same material, keeping the original appearance intact.
Photographs 18 – 23. Broken modillion being replaced with a new one
Photographs 24 – 32. Catalogue of all modillions that have been replaced.
The sculpture groups on the façade of the Bank of Spain bring a unique majesty to the building. They are large elements, sculpted with great delicacy. They were thoroughly reviewed to detect any pathologies suffered and to apply the treatment technique most appropriate in each case.
Photographs 33, 34 and 35. Depressions, breaks or fissures in sculptural groups detected during the review.
Consolidations and re-integrations were carried out with mortar, sealing the joints and fissures and applying waterproof mortar in areas exposed to rainwater and then new pieces were moulded for replacements, ensuring an appearance identical to the original.
Photographs 36, 37 and 38. Applying different consolidation and treatment methods to the sculpture groups.
Photographs 39 and 40. Prior state of the waterproofing was eliminated and replaced with calcium mortar with hydrophobic coating.
To ensure the watertightness between the cornices and the modillions, a layer of zinc in placed using the “Belgian strip tip” technique, the same used in all roofs of the building.
Photographs 41 and 42. Final aspect of the zinc protection on the cornices.
In order to carry out the works and reproductions on the façade, it was necessary to dismantle the monument’s lighting facilities. The work was completed in order to reorganize and replace the pipes for the lines and boxes and to restore the lights themselves.
Photographs 43 and 44. Protection of the lights during cleaning, detail of the iron parts and final appearance after cleaning and treatment.
In regard to the lights, the anchors are checked and the cast iron elements were replaced.
Photographs 45 and 46. Protection of the lights during cleaning, detail of the iron parts and final appearance after cleaning and treatment.
Iron elements on the ground floor
The iron elements located on the ground floor were cleaned, replacing any cast iron elements, such as arrows, which were in bad condition.
Photographs 47 – 52. Repair of iron elements and replacement using moulds.
Just as before, it has been a true pleasure to return to work for the Bank of Spain with a stable and highly specialized team.
It is a building with unique architectural and artistic features and it is an honour to be able to contribute to its ability to remain for many years and be representative for the people of Madrid and the visitors who travel around it daily.