Culture Culture

03/04/2019 - 08:09

Thua Thien Hue province keeps the original appearance for historical building

With a funding from Kärcher, the Noon Gate (Ngo Mon) – one of the cultural symbol of Hue, the former Capital, would have a new appearance which was free of moss and mold, and put on its own original colors through an essential cleaning project.

A close-up shot of applying hot steam to clean the surface of the Noon Gate’s body part

Kärcher is headquartered in Winnenden, Germany, and operates in 70 countries as a leading worldwide provider of cleaning technology. Kärcher has cleaned over 140 monuments, cultural buildings and historical relics worldwide since 1980. It started its operation in Vietnam since 2013 and the Noon Gate is the first cleaning project of its cultural sponsorship program in Vietnam.

Noon Gate is an architectural monument of the Nguyen Dynasty as the southern main gate of the Imperial City. It was built in the fourteenth year of Minh Mang Emperor’s reign (1833) when the Nguyen Dynasty re-planned its entire architecture of the Imperial City.

Noon Gate is the biggest gate among the four ones of the Imperial City. For years, it is always considered the pinnacle of Hue Royal architectural arts. Almost 200 years of age, the Noon Gate has been partially ruined by deposits, pollutants and vegetation that deteriorated the monument’s unique aesthetic values and threatened its longevity. The Noon Gate Cleaning project is considered essential to preserve this historical monument.

Appreciating Kärcher’s good intentions in its commitments for supporting the preservation of long-standing cultural monuments of Vietnam, yet, the Noon Gate Cleaning project also stimulated public anxiety since it would be implemented right on Hue most important monument, and is also its symbolic image.

As the Director of Hue Monuments Conservation Center (and now as the Director of Thua Thien Hue Department of Culture and Sports), Dr. Phan Thanh Hai highly appreciated the superiority of Kärcher's technology that was applied for cleaning the Noon Gate, and at the same time, stressed that the Centre considered carefully the reasons for choosing the Noon Gate. Kärcher uses the steam pressure to clean, which is, however, fully adjustable by hands. With the Noon Gate, the water pressure is limited to a minimum to mitigate its impacts on the surface of the monument.

"With this method, if the Noon Gate takes a different color after the cleaning project, that will be its original color and appearance. It is not a new overpainted layer," confirmed Mr. Hai.

Two German experts (left) directly implement the project cleaning the Noon Gate

Kärcher applies its advanced high-pressure steam cleaning technology in the hot steam mode, through a special nozzle to increase pressure with approximately 0,5 – 1 bar steam jet on the surface. This mechanism will help to completely eliminate contaminants/biological soiling on the surface, destroy bacteria and mold residing deep inside the pores of the stone under the surface layer by the high temperature of the steam to slow down the time they may take for a new growth.

The Noon Gate cleaning project would be carried out by a highly-skilled expert - Mr. Thorsten Marco Mowes (an expert on applied cleaning and sanitation technology). Ms. Andrea Teufel, who is a German conservator-restorer with 15 years working for Hue’s heritage conservation and restoration and also one of the important links to connect Kärcher to Hue Monuments Conservation Centre, stated, “lichens, algae and moss may bring an interesting look and antique appearance on historical monuments, yet they accelerate the process of deterioration and decay. It is not because of the visual effect of the cleaning that we clean the buildings. It is to preserve the historical substances and prevent them from progressive decay. If we want to keep the original building substances in accordance with conservation measure, we need firstly to clean all microorganism like bacteria, mold, fungi… The only way to do it effectively and thoroughly is with hot steam under pressure”.

Many people expressed their anxiety that whether the Noon Gate would still remain its “soul” after being cleaned. Mr. Thorsten Marco Mowes shared that the image of a mossy monument might be familiar to many, while others accepted to act because it was essential to preserve the building so that it could stand for a long time. What Kärcher does is to help eliminate and remove the mold parts for the  longevity of the monument.

It is the fact that the Noon Gate is the first project that Kärcher chose to implement in Vietnam. Therefore, Hue Monuments Conservation Center requested Kärcher’s experts to conduct on-site trial with their machines many months ago. Testing traces of over 12 months ago at the Noon Gate still displayed good results. By the end of March 2019, the entire Noon Gate (body part) will be cleaned with a technical and financial support from Kärcher. This technology maximizes its efficiency on uncolored brick, stone, and concrete surfaces. After the completion of the project, Kärcher would transfer the technology to assist Hue Monuments Conservation Center for its active maintenance to better clean harmful microorganism.

Story and photos: Dong Van