A Brief History
Twenty minutes North outside of Vienna the Klosterneuburg Monastery (in German: Stift Klosterneuburg), a 900-year-old monastery comes into view straight out of a fairy tale, set against the backdrop of a steep, perfect-for-grape-growing hill.
The history of Klosterneuburg Monastery began in year 1114. Traditionally associated with scholarship and art, under the caring eyes of the Augustinian monks viticulture ripened into the most important economic sector in Klosterneuburg. After 900 years, today Klosterneuburg Monastery Winery is not only one of the oldest wine estates in Austria, but also one of the largest with its 260 acres of cultivated land. Klosterneuburg produces about 1 million bottles of wine each year, and it is also the first winery in Austria to be designated carbon-neutral by the Austrian government.
Over the centuries restorations and building projects turned the monastery into an architectural marvel; the interconnected buildings flow from medieval to Gothic to ornately Baroque.
The cellars of Klosterneuburg are four stories beneath the historic Baroque monastery, the walls of which date back to the ancient Romans. At the end of the 15th century the building was testamentarily left to the choristers of Klosterneuburg who used the building for storage. Over time the building fell into disrepair and when the building management needed extra space they have decided to rehabilitate the building.
Before the Dehydration
The building is made of natural stone and has a vaulted cellar. The 1m thick earth-touching exterior walls did not have vertical insulation, therefore laterally penetrating ground moisture kept the masonry in a damp state. There was a strong musty smell in the basement despite of natural ventilation, and the plaster was damaged up to the ceiling. Some parts of the cellar's exterior walls were damp up to 5m high or 2m above ground level.
To restore the cellar, the building management had two objectives:
- The vaulted cellar should become drier without the installation of a costly external vertical insulation or a drainage system involving expensive, disruptive digging.
- The cellar's climate should improve.
After considering several potential alternatives the Aquapol system has been chosen, which has been hidden in a wooden wine barrel hanging from the ceiling.
The Aquapol System - Results
A few months after the installation the musty smell has reduced significantly, the first indicator that the building is drying out.
At the one-year follow-up measurement the moisture content of some of the free-standing walls (measurement points M2, M3) went well below 5%. Initially M3 was extremely damp with about 18% moisture content due to rising damp; so the client was extremely pleased with the results.
The moisture levels have decreased significantly in all the walls (measurement points M1, M4, M5, and M6). The earth-touching exterior walls with no vertical insulation have dried out too. The bottom part of M1 took longer to dry out because here the sideways penetrating moisture here was the strongest. The hygroscopic salts following the dehydration have influenced the readings at M2.
After one year the dehydration of the cellar has mostly been completed and renovation works have started. To control the indoor moisture content during the dehydration an automatic ventilation system has also been installed.