The former brewery, which houses the exhibition, underwent numerous redesigns in its past and acquired its current form at the very end of the 19th century. However, in the 1960s its brew kettles went cold and the premises were used as a warehouse. Following extensive preservation and reconstruction works between 2013 and 2015, a civil engineering museum was established here. If you feel like learning about skills or artisans, admiring the beauty of construction details or if you would like to learn more about basic principles of structure, then the civil engineering exhibition is the place to go!
The exhibition’s objective is to present the development of historical construction components, materials and structures in an attractive and comprehensive manner. The visitor has an opportunity to become acquainted with various construction materials (timber, stone, clay), their processing, and application in construction. Individual floors offer various types of construction structures from foundations and the building frame through different treatments of wall surfaces, types of windows and doors, relevant technical facilities of buildings to types of roof timbers and coverings.
The Plasy brewery interconnects brewing rooms with rooms where the basic raw material, brewing malt, used to be prepared. The floor of the malthouse used to be covered in damp barley, which the maltster forked regularly to avoid moulding and to ensure proper germination. As the maltster used his skills to transform the nature’s gift into a new product essential for brewing, a carpenter, brick maker, stonemason, or lime burner used their craftsmanship to win the basic components necessary for construction of houses, castles, and churches. The exhibition of construction materials offers a glimpse of the side of construction which is in close touch with nature.
The cold store floor was raised by almost 2.5 meters in the course of the brewery’s conversion into a warehouse. The space underneath was filled with rubble. During the preservation process, two cast iron columns from the 19th century, which had used to support ceiling vaults the imprints of which were still clearly visible on the walls, were discovered under the floor. The troubled past of this space strongly relates to the exhibition housed here. It is the part of construction in which a bricklayer plays the main role and in which the main frame of the entire house is built – its walls, vaults, columns. It is called “rough construction” not because it is not smooth, but because it comprises rough construction processes and the result is a “roughly” finished house.
Should we enter this part of the exhibition about fifty years ago, we would detect a persistent sweet aroma of boiled brewing malt, the base for wort. Yes, we have entered the brewery's very heart, the brewhouse. However, during the conversion into a warehouse, brew kettles were removed and floors were raised to conceal the ceramic tiling on the walls. A steam engine was found buried in rubble in the adjacent engine room. Today, instead of experiencing the heat emanating from brew kettles, visitors can learn much about hearth and home. The brewhouse is the brewery’s heart in much the same way heating is the heart of a house. Where is fire, there should also be water! If heating is the beating heart, then water mains and wastewater pipes are a network of veins ensuring comfort of the house’s inhabitants.
Huge brew kettles in the brewhouse were operated via a system of iron footbridges and steps. The gallery, whose shape copies the layout of the original service footbridges, presents another part of the construction process – wall facing, stairs, and joining materials.
The former barley loft, i.e. a granary where grain for malting used to be stored, is dedicated to so called horizontal structures. The word flooring suggests a process of laying wooden boards down on the floor, thus contrasting a wooden floor and a bare soil floor. In case of multi-storey buildings, floors and ceilings share the same structures thus determining height of rooms within the entire building.
A part of the malthouse that used to be used for cleaning barley and its subsequent steeping houses and exhibition on treatment of wall surfaces – outdoor walls called façades as well as interior ones. Scale models demonstrate e.g. cornice construction or making of sgraffiti.
Since the brewery’s reconstruction at the end of the 19th century, all mechanical equipment had been powered by a steam engine. However, steam energy was gradually replaced with electric energy. Despite the fact that the fittings are from a technical point of view a relatively new piece of equipment, electric wiring as well as plugs and sockets have undergone significant changes. These are mapped by a unique collection of switches, electric sockets and other wiring material dating all the way back to the end of the 19th century.
Piles of malt ready for brewing were stored in the malthouse loft, where windows and doors are “stored” today. It would make us happy should you, upon inspection of these seemingly ordinary and shabby construction components, discover their discreet beauty as well as time-proven functionality. After all, the human kind has always tried to protect themselves and their homes from the weather as well as uninvited guests!
“Put a roof over one’s head” has always been the basic requirement for a dwelling. The foundation of a strong roof is its timber roof truss. A proper roof truss sings a song of great craftsmanship combined with knowledge passed on through generations. The brewery’s loft presents an admirable and unique example of a roof truss structure with double vertical components, so called queen truss, transmitting the weight of horizontally laid binding joists. The exhibition allows the visitors to become acquainted with the development of timber roof structures throughout history.
A look out of brewery windows towards the monastery offers a view of unevenly shaped roofs covered in various roofing materials. A pantile prelacy roof, sheet copper convent chapter hall roof, flat tile lager cellar roof, vegetative roof on the half-buried malthouse at the foot of the brewery. However, the exhibition offers many more roofing materials to see!