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Survey and Elaboration of Portfolio, Strengthening and Water Proofing of The Rock Massif in the Area of the Tsarkvata Site –Ivanovo Rock Hewn Churches, Village of Ivanovo


 The project is funded by the WMF

Chief designer – eng. Antonio Lakov

 The „Tsarkvata” is the most outstanding site within the Ivanovo Rock Hewn Churches complex (World Heritage) – the most valuable and the best preserved frescoes of the complex are situated in it, they are the only frescoes entirely restored and accessible to the public.

But the protection of this unique monument is threatened due to insufficient stability of the rock massif and to the infiltrating humidity through the separate stone prisms of the massif, which is dangerous for the frescoes.

Therefore, in 1997 the BNC of ICOMOS presented to the World Monument Fund an application for the inclusion of the Ivanovo Rock Churches on the List of the 100 most endangered monuments, which is drafted every two years within the scope of the Fund programme “World Monument Watch” (WMW).

In result of the success of this nomination the WMF secured two successive financial aids for the protection of the monument: the first (from the Kress Foundation, 1997) – for the project “Identification of the emergency measures for overcoming the most adverse negative impacts, erection of a temporary working scaffold” and the second one (from the Headley Trust and Wilson Challenge Grant, 2001) – for the project „Survey and elaboration of a portfolio, strengthening and water proofing of the rock massif in the area of the “Tsarkvata” site.

A project for a metal tube scaffold was elaborated within the scope of the first project, which was assembled in front of the rock massif at the level of the «Tsarkvata”. Based on this a macroscopic survey of the massif was effected  and the geotechnical evaluation for the state of the massif and for the assessment of the scope and parameters of the necessary examination works was done; a detailed programme for the type, scope, sequence and cost of the works for the survey, documenting and portfolio for the rock massif was established; the field, laboratory and chamber works -    engineering and geological documentation for the massif, topographic survey of the terrain with cross cuts, determination of the physical and mechanic qualities of the rocks, mapping of the cracks, defining the configuration of the basic rock prism etc., were carried out as foreseen in the project.

The second project „Survey and elaboration of a portfolio, strengthening and water proofing of the rock massif in the area of the “Tsarkvata” site was launched with the preparation of a detailed programme for the project implementation divided into three phases – survey, design and implementation.

Together with the activities directly linked to the project implementation, the Programme foresees the holding of two round tables as scheduled at the most appropriate time of the implementation with the participation of multi-disciplinary experts who can objectively and with their high professionalism contribute to the best decision making for this complex site.

First phase – Survey and elaboration of portfolio of the rock massif

According to the programme, the first round table of experts has the task to make an expert assessment  of the results of the prepared portfolio of the massif with the “Tsarkvata” site and to objectively evaluate the possible alternatives for its strengthening and water proofing and hence – to give guidance for the future project decisions. The participants in the Round Table (Ruse, March 2003) approved the submitted documentation as appropriate for the tasks assigned and adopted the following major guidance for the work on the project:

1.       The following specialized research to be carried out: seismic micro-zoning of the site; seismic research for the establishment of the own vibrations and the degree of connection between the blocks; electrical profiling (electro-tomography) of the rock cornice, field mechanical examination of the rock.

2.       In relation to the forthcoming design for the strengthening of the rock massif the following activities to be performed: preparation and implementation of a project for continuous monitoring of the inter-blocks slides, elaboration of a model and of a static scheme for the assessment of the local (with regard to single blocks) and the general  (with regard to combinations of blocks) strength of the massif in static and dynamic regime; preparation of a conceptual project with variants securing the stability of the vertical rock plane; selection and adoption of a variant for strengthening based on which the work project will be done, experimenting with the adopted technology.

3.       A summary of the existing data from previous research and observations for the spread of humidity in the massif to be done; installation in the “Tsarkvata” of a control equipment and equipment for the maintenance of the necessary parameters of the micro-climate.

The decisions of the round table in 2003 have defined the anchoring of the massif as the sole alternative for the handling of the problem and have suggested a synthesized minimum of requirements and guidance for the stage after the phase “Survey and a portfolio of the massif”. The last research was carried out immediately after the holding of the Round Table as follows:

  • Field cuts along cracks, seismic survey along cross-cuts, experimental filtration survey of cracks
  • Seismic and mechanical research: creation of a regional and local tectonic and seismic model, spectra of vibrations of the rock blocks, seismic micro-zoning of the platform of the “Tzarkvata”.
  • Mechanical examination of rocks; elaboration of a 3D structural model
  • Establishment of the local and general solidity of the blocks.
  • Preparation of a project for the  “Technical monitoring of the activities”

According to the programme, after the completion of this phase a Second National Round Table of Experts was organized, whose task, based on the final results of the survey and portfolio of the rock massif, is to better assess the state of the massif and to give recommendations for the content and the direction of the forthcoming design. The submitted documentation was well appreciated as complete, comprehensive and complying with the assigned tasks. The main decisions of the Second Round Table are:  

  • It was recommended that the implementation of the project phase “Technical monitoring of the activities” be launched in 2004.
  • Based on the results of the research to start the design for the strengthening of the massif through anchoring; the design to be done in two phases – conceptual and working.
  • The conceptual project must contain and define the necessary types and number of anchors by taking into account a series of requirements – with regard to the stability of the rock, the safety of the frescoes, the aesthetic impact etc.
  • With a view of defining the specific characteristics of the anchors – type, material, production technique etc, an experiment on a test area to be carried out, for which a work project to be made.
  • To prepare a preliminary conceptual project for water proofing of the massif in 2004.
  • The works foreseen to be carried out in the following sequence: installation and adjustment of the equipment for technical monitoring, designing the experimental area, carrying out of the experiment and finally – elaboration of the projects for the strengthening and water proofing of the rock massif; this will guarantee high quality and optimal deadlines for the elaboration of the projects themselves as well as for their implementation.

Second phase – Elaboration of a conceptual and working project for strengthening and water proofing of the rock massif.

This phase was launched in 2004 and was done within the limits of the funding provided by the sponsor - the following activities were done:

  • A project for the test area was elaborated, where different anchors and technologies be tested and the best – selected; the place of the test area  is accessible for the machines, allows the safety of the machines, does not require assembly of accessory constructions for the drilling and assembly works and grants optimal costs for the carrying out of the experiment.
  • A conceptual project for the strengthening of the rock massif was prepared and was submitted to the National Institute for the Monuments of Culture for approval.
  • At present the experiment takes place, with the testing of different anchors, technologies for their laying and solutions for their fixing; the best suited will be selected and will be part of the project for the strengthening of the massif.

The carrying of the experiment will exhaust the so far secured funding for the project. There is no funding for the following activities of the Programme.

1.       Completion of the second phase

·         Preparation of a working project for the strengthening of the rock massif – based on the results from the experiment.

·         Implementation at the first stage of the “Technical monitoring” – purchase, assembly and customization of the measuring devices; regular checking of the data.

·         Elaboration of a working project for water proofing (according to the decisions of the First Round Table the project must be made based on the results from the experiment and on the first stage of the technical monitoring)

2.       Third phase – implementation of the working projects for strengthening and water proofing of the massif.

Based on this, the BNC of ICOMOS, having submitted to the sponsor the regular reports for the works carried out and the costs, has repeatedly solicited additional funding. Still there is not a positive response and alternative sources are sought so that the remaining activities of the Programme could be carried out and the Project – completed.

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