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Sepulchral Chapel of the Grand Duchy in Karlsruhe, Germany – an intergenerational project then and now 

Between 1889 and 1896, the Grand Duke of Baden Friedrich I. and his wife Luise of Prussia commissioned Hermann Hemberger to build a very special edifice in Karlsruhe’s Hardtwald forest, based on preliminary drafts by Hemberger’s father. This neo-Gothic style mausoleum may not be an officially consecrated church, yet it never fails to impress with its architectural details and the proportions of a large place of worship. When refurbishment of the roof and facade of the building could be delayed no longer after 120 years, Burkart Gerüstbau GmbH of Karlsruhe was awarded the contract for the necessary scaffolding work. For Burkart too, just as it did for the architects over a century ago, the issue of generations plays a special role on this particular construction site, being the very last time Peter Burkart and his nephew Christian will be collaborating on a project. As soon as it is over, Peter Burkart will be taking well-earned retirement after almost 40 years as the firm’s joint Managing Director.

“Like all public contracts, this project was put out to tender, which on the one hand provides a certain degree of security for us as the firm carrying out the work, because the clearly defined tasks theoretically mean all quotes submitted are readily comparable. In practice, however, it bears a certain resemblance to dipping into a lucky bag, because you have no way of assessing the construction site in person upfront and so you can never rule out unpleasant surprises,” says Peter Burkart, who can look back on extensive experience supervising such projects. “Layher’s Integrated System and the wide standard range of Allround Scaffolding guarantee us maximum flexibility here and the ability to react as effectively as possible to unforeseen challenges that arise when the scaffolding is erected.”

Great flexibility called for
In this particular case, for example, this meant that the tender only envisaged one elevator up to the start of the tower 21 metres above the ground. “Our scaffolding was already complete when we were suddenly informed that a second elevator would be required. It needed to reach from the start of the tower to the start of the roof, to enable the sandstone blocks that must be partially removed from the facade for refurbishing to be transported safely,” explains Christian Burkart, Technical Office Manager. “That was the big chance for us and our Layher Lightweight material to demonstrate once again exactly what we’re capable of.” For the first phase of the project – the refurbishment of the tower – shoring made from Layher Allround material was erected on the long sides of the mausoleum, with access via Layher platform stairtowers to allow safer, faster ascent and descent with tools and work materials.

Optimal combination of weight and loading capacity is an enabling feature
“We’ve been using Layher material exclusively ever since our company was founded, because the optimal combination of weight and loading capacity enables us to provide a whole range of efficient solutions and gives us a clear competitive advantage,” explains Christian Burkart, who originally graduated in engineering. This was a crucial factor where the scaffolding solution for the sepulchral chapel was concerned, because the edifice’s many architectural details mean the options for absorbing forces on the structure are severely limited. “We had to build the modular scaffolding for the tower on steel beams, which we unloaded on both the inside and outside via the chapel windows as well as shoring made from Layher Allround Lightweight material. In that kind of situation, the weight of the material is key.” These transverse beams then served as the foundation for the work scaffolding needed to refurbish the tower.

One challenge follows another
Peter Burkart recalls that the time frame allotted for the project was extremely tight: “When we received the order at the beginning of the year, we had no time to lose, because the scaffolding had to be in place before birds and bats started using the building as a nesting site again in spring.” Local environmental officers checked up on this regularly throughout the construction work before each new step was approved. “What’s more, the sepulchral chapel is located very close to Karlsruhe’s Wildpark stadium, directly on one of the most popular routes among the second division football team’s fans,” his nephew Christian adds. “That’s why we decided on extensive protection against unauthorised access with a high wall of scaffolding material and Layher Protect System elements around the entire construction site, to reduce the risk of accidents and vandalism.” In the second project phase after refurbishment of the tower is completed, the shoring will be converted into work scaffolding for refurbishing of the chapel base. 

40 years of success
While studying for a degree in engineering, Thomas Burkart regularly helped to erect Layher rolling towers in his father’s painting business during the holidays. When he announced his intention to set up business with his own scaffolding company in 1983, his positive experience so far made the exclusive resort to Layher material an easy choice. Burkart insists that it “offers the best value for money in the market”. Today, 40 years later, the firm still relies on scaffolding material made in Eibensbach. With 120 in-house scaffolding erectors, backed up by a large organisational and administrative team, construction site contractors anywhere within a good 200 km radius know they can count on the yard in Rheinstetten, south-west of Karlsruhe, to serve them well day in, day out. “Our high flexibility and our traditional pragmatism when it comes to planning and utilising resources are our biggest assets,” Christian Burkart claims proudly. “We always use exactly the amount we need – no more and no less.” Peter Burkart’s verdict as he approaches well-earned retirement is simple: “Coupled with the high quality of all Layher material and the optimal combination of weight and loading capacity, that makes Burkart and Layher an unbeatable team.”





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