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Schloss Kummerow

After its slumber and extensive renovation measures, Kummerow Castle now houses a top-class photographic collection. Torsten's castle on Lake Kummerow impresses with an extraordinary renovation concept that preserves the traces of the past and visibly only adds new things where flaws have appeared. It has been open to the public since 2016 and houses Kunert's collection of international photography, which is well worth seeing.

AndrΓ© George
Schloss Kummerow gGmbH
AndrΓ© George, Thomas Wesely
Kummerow, Germany
  • NHL-Kalkputz-Fein
  • Athenit-forte

A crumbling monument

The current owner of the castle, Torsten Kunert, bought the castle at an auction. It had considerable damage to the roof, roof drainage, windows, doors and exterior plaster due to neglected repairs and maintenance. The concrete covering of the roof was leaking, there was sponge formation and damage to the original roof structure and stucco ceilings. Immediate safeguarding and restoration measures were taken, taking care to leave the historical traces visible rather than restoring them perfectly. Architect AndrΓ© George explains that this meant a departure from the usual perfection of craftsmanship.

Patina instead of perfection

The renovation of the castle was divided into several sections and the funding was structured accordingly. The architect took over during one such section, which made his start easier, as his predecessor had died suddenly.

In renovating the facade, the focus was on preserving and restoring as much of the original plaster as possible. In some areas, new lime plaster was mixed with regional sands to replace the original plaster. The aim was to leave the facade in its particular inherent colour without covering it up. The plaster was carefully worked to expose its fine granular structure.

For the roof, care was taken to match the shape and appearance of the facade so as not to create a new look. The beaver tails needed for the roofing were procured second-hand and only partially supplemented with new ones to give the roof a patinated look.

Dialogue between old and new

This approach was also implemented in the interiors. The wooden beam ceiling in one room was left without plaster after the structure had been repaired so that the structure and the necessary renovation work would remain visible as an example. Wooden surfaces on stair railings and doors were merely cleaned and brushed off, additions were deliberately not coloured and adapted - the traces of the past were to remain just as visible as irregularities. 

traces of the past as well as irregularities caused by use. The interested visitor can discover old stucco, merely cleaned and fixed, fascinating colour plays of historical wall skins or a piece of sewage pipe protruding from the wall, bearing witness to the former pragmatic handling of historical building fabric.  

In many cases, the wall surfaces of the rooms were not completely painted white. They show surfaces with preserved evidence of the time, surface finishes and colour tones from the construction period as well as paints and symbols of the socialist period of use. On the walls of the hall there are faded stencil prints with stylised cocktail glasses in 60s aesthetics - relics from GDR times when there was a lot of dancing and partying here - next to walls painted white throughout as a background for the high-class works of art. 
Damage and imperfections were smoothed with mineral NHL lime plaster Fein from KEIM in such a way that they are still recognisable as such. The lime-matt paint was applied with KEIM Athenit-forte lime paint. "I always try to convince my clients of the quality of KEIM's silicate paints because I am convinced of it myself," explains the architect. "Lightfastness, durability and advantages in terms of building physics are quality features that often pay for themselves after only five years and then provide many years of pleasure."

In May 2018, the overall renovation measures were completed after more than 6 years, including the outdoor facilities. The photographic collection at Kummerow Castle is still an insider tip, but art lovers from all over Germany are already making pilgrimages there to discover the beauty of the historic castle grounds and their artistic restoration. The collection includes works by renowned Eastern photographers as well as internationally known photographers and video artists such as Candida Hâfer, Andreas Gursky, Thomas Demand, Helmut Newton and Marina Abramovič. These works enter into dialogue with the traces of the house's past and its history. Schloss Kummerow thus has the best prerequisites to become a Mecca for art and architecture enthusiasts.

Text: Susanne Mandl

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