To preserve San Agustin Church’s centuries-old exterior, Kärcher partners with the San Agustin Administration as part of its global cultural sponsoring program that aims to preserve historical landmarks.
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“San Agustin Church is related to our history. It is known to be the oldest standing stone church and it is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. These were some of the factors we considered in choosing this location,” says Kärcher Philippines General Manager Mark Palisoc.
Due to age and the country’s tropical climate, San Agustin Church’s natural stone exterior has accumulated organic vegetation. These biological components produce harmful acids and drill in their roots, weakening and damaging the surface of the delicate stone structure. Kärcher’s cleaning technology aims to eliminate the biological growth of algae, mosses, small plants, and emission pollution from the walls.
Kärcher uses a hot steam system, one that is known to be the most effective technique in preserving and restoring old structures made out of mineral materials. Its high temperature delays the reintroduction of organic vegetation. Moewes demonstrated their two main cleaning systems: hot steam and high-pressure. Hot steam is used for sensitive stones like adobe and limestone while high-pressure is used for strong stones such as granite.
While Palisoc points out that using aggressive cleaning materials like hard brushes or metal are some of the most common harmful practices that damage historic structures, Moewes emphasizes the importance of using hot water for cleaning. “Hot water is more efficient than using cold water. The easiest and gentlest way to clean is the steam system. Its reduced pressure is fit for sensitive stones,” says Moewes. He also shared that while the traditional cleaning of structures is done every 6-7 years, the hot steam system’s effect may last up to 10 years or more, depending on the climate.
Apart from the facade, the exteriors of the San Agustin Church convent will also be cleansed using the hot steam system. “The agreement was mainly the facade along with exteriors of the church’s side. Everything is targeted to be finished by Friday, November 22,” shares Palisoc. The San Agustin Church cleanup treatment is also Kärcher’s way of supporting the anticipated celebration of 500 years of Christianity here in the Philippines.
The first two Philippine historical landmarks cleansed by Kärcher are the Rizal Monument in December 2017 and the People Power Monument in February 2018.
Photographed by Ed Simon of Studio 100