A 17-months study of the original plans preceded the actual start of the reconstruction of the church. The biggest challenge facing architects and engineers was identifying and cataloguing the pieces recovered from the construction site. After previous restorations, the construction team had more than 10,000 photographs of recovered pieces. These photographs were to be immediately matched to each piece as it was recovered and photographed once more with the ones lying adjacent, a very long and tiring process for everyone involved.
Each piece was given a label containing its characteristics that had previously been measured electronically. The final step consisted of placing the restored items in the depository located next to the cathedral. “Some 8,390 of these pieces of facade, ceiling, roofing and assorted decorative embellishments, accounting for 90,000 electronically generated images, will ultimately have contributed a quarter of the finished building” (Kenneth Asch, Rebuilding Dresden).
The real building process was launched in May 1994, with the symbolic gesture of laying the foundation stone. The first thing the building team had to learn and apply to this particular case was the method of sandstone-working, one which consists of choosing the suitable mortar (a key procedure especially in the case of the joints of a construction). In the case of Frauenkirche, the usage of this particular technique was most important when assembling the cupola of the cathedral. (http://www. goethe.de/ges/rel/thm/skm/en942577. htm)
In order to understand the amount of work this project entailed, as well as its degree of difficulty, one must look at the facts and figures of the rebuilding process. With the help of computer software, it was possible to calculate the volume of the heap of ruins that amounted to 21. 200 m? , and covered an area of 3. 220 m?. The first phase of the project was that of preparation. This stage of the process relied on both manual and mechanical techniques of recovery.
The following stage, that of experimental investigations was closely related to several analyses of both old, and new material, as well as the original mortar. “The tests with regard to masonry were carried out jointly with the chair for Planning of Load Bearing Structures of the Faculty of Architecture and the Otto-Mohr-Laboratory of the Faculty for Civil Engineering of the Dresden University of Technology. ” (W. Jager, T. Burkert, The Reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden)
The cupola was originally endowed with rather large glass openings, serving as windows, which permitted the light to penetrate the interior of the church. The original cupola of the Frauenkirche was a double-shell piece, with the two shells “interconnected by transverse masonry pieces” (W. Jager, T. Burkert, The Reconstruction of the Frauenkirche in Dresden). As far as the organ was concerned, the constructors decided not to use a reproduction of the original Sibermann organ.
This led to a dispute, later known as the “Dresden organ dispute” that was stirred by the misunderstanding that the new organ would be entirely modern and would not resemble the old one in any respect. The organ was brought in April 2005 from Strasbourg, France, where it was built by Daniel Kern. The new organ represents an attempt to reconstruct all the original stops, but others were added as well in order for it to become suitable for more recent music, as composed after the baroque period when the church was initially built.
Another important aspect in its reconstruction is the restoration of the bronze statue of Martin Luther, the father of the Protestant Church. At present, the statue can be seen in front of the Frauenkirche, in the exact same spot where it stood from 1885 until the 1945 bombings. (Dresden Frauenkirche, http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Dresden_Frauenkirche#Reconstruction) Perhaps the most interesting element of the reconstruction of Frauenkirche is the 30ft golden cross placed atop, partly paid for by Coventry Cathedral in England.
The British-made cross that now embellishes the roof of the new cathedral was created by the son of an English pilot who took part in the bombings which reduced the historic city of Dresden, including its major Baroque buildings to rubble. Before being given as a present to the region of Saxony, and Dresden, the cross was on display in Coventry for several months, as a symbolic gesture which, according to Coventry Cathedral’s Rev Peter Berry, was to seal the bond between the two cities, “The cross is wonderful – a most marvelous piece of craftsmanship – and serves to emphasize the very deep link between Coventry and Dresden.
Both cities suffered serious damage and loss during the war, and a special link was formed as a part of Coventry Cathedral’s ministry of peace and reconciliation. ” (Cathedral Adornment a Shining Symbol; Cross that so many admired in our city now atop its rightful place, Coventry Evening Telegraph, England, June 24 2004)