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Experience the “Spirit of the University Library”

On 30 June 2019, three guided tours of the Alte Aktienspinnerei will be offered as a part of the 2019 “Day of Architecture”

This coming weekend, the Germany-wide Day of Architecture will be taking place. This day offers many exclusive opportunities to experience build and design first-hand, talk to architects and builders, and above all, discover new spaces. “There are 45 places accessible throughout Saxony, plus three open offices and 11 events,” says Dirk Fellendorf of the Saxony Chamber of Architects. A particular attraction of note is the Alte Aktienspinnerei in Chemnitz, which is being converted into a university library. On 30 June 2019, three guided tours will show the current progress of the construction.

The former factory building is already recognisable from the outside as a university library, as the name plate on the façade is visible from afar. “The construction work for the Chemnitz University of Technology Central Library should be completed by the end of the year,” says Peter Voit, head of the Chemnitz branch of Saxon State Real Estate and Construction Management (SIB). The site is one of the most important in the city, not only in financial terms of about 52 million euros, but also in the sense of the notable history of the building. If everything goes according to plan, the building will undergo inspection and safety checks in January 2020. In April 2020, freestanding shelving will be installed, and in June 2020 more than 1.2 million books will be relocated to the 12,300 square meter library.

This year’s annual Day of Architecture carries the motto “Shaping Spaces”, and this sentiment is very much alive in the Alte Aktienspinnerei. “Here, you can already feel the character of the new reading room at the heart of the building, with its glass ceiling and multi-floor form,” says architect Siegmar Lungwitz. Visitors will learn first-hand about the challenges of this construction project and other interesting facts, such as the different thicknesses of the walls which provide building stability and climate control, the special features of the 350 arched windows and countless cast-iron columns, and much more. The tours start at 12:30, 13:30 and 14:30 and are restricted to 25 people per tour. Entry to the tour is via the construction site entrance on Karl-Liebknecht-Straße. Sturdy or reinforced footwear is recommended.

Background: History of the “Alte Aktienspinnerei”

The old mill, built in the style of “historical eclecticism”, came to be in 1858 as a result of the founding of a joint spinning company, and was the largest spinning mill in Saxony, with 60,000 spindles. Deviating from earlier spinning mills, the architect Friedrich Theodor Roschig designed the building entirely out of iron and stone. Mainly due to the risk of fire, he largely avoided wood as a building material, making the building one of the most fireproof in the city. By 1914, the spinning mill was no longer in use, and already in 1905, the area became property of the city of Chemnitz. During the Second World War, the building was badly damaged and lost its roof and top floor. In the following years, the building came to be used as a food outlet, temporary home of the opera house after it was destroyed, a department store, a city library, an office building, a puppet theatre, and finally as a gallery. As of 2011, the building is the property of the Free State of Saxony.

Visitor’s Programme for the 2019 “Day of Architecture” in Saxony:

(Article: Mario Steinebach / Translation: Jeffrey Karnitz)

Matthias Fejes

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