The castle “Schloss Freudenstein“ in Freiberg has often been altered and adjusted to meet various needs throughout the past. Its history can be traced back into the Romanesque period and is closely connected to the house of the former duke-electors of Saxony. After its climax in the Renaissance period it was altered into an arsenal and suffered since constant decay.
The castle was subject to repetitive transformations : from stronghold to residence to arsenal to hospital to granary. With the introduction of a new function this development shall now come to a halt. Being a outstanding building it will now tell its story and claim its cultural significance.
In February 2005 a international design contest has been decided in favour of AFF architects from Berlin. Only 156 weeks represent the period between this decision and the completion of the building. As from autumn 2008 the castle will host the most comprehensive archive for documents about mining in Europe and the world largest collection of minerals as well as an restaurant.
The so called “Neue Schlosshof” is of rectangular shape and surrounded by four wings. The design corresponds to the exhibition inside the building. Large plates of yellow granite in he shape of particular minerals are cut into the surface of sanded asphalt. Two building extensions of black concrete complete the complex.
An second building-body has been inscribed into the former Kirchenflügel. This ark shelters behind its rough walls the entire history of Saxon mining within four storeys of archives. It anchors itself with the historical walls and reveals itself at the exterior facade with expanded cantilevers (so called “Hutzen”). The spatial relations which between the old walls and the newly introduced body set consciously a stage for the conception of the new and the old story of the castle : the former chapel and intermediate arsenal is today reading room and exhibition space.
Once upon a time this part of the building housed the chambers for the duke-electors of Saxony. Its present function as an administration space for the Saxon Archive for Mining connects to a time in history, because in 1805 this wing has been extended by a building for this very institution. A central foyer functions as an atrium and allows an insight into the process of archiving and enables communicative work. At the ground floor preserved parts of the a wooden structure witness the former alteration of the building into an arsenal. The design is always alert to distinguish between new and old surfaces.
In this part of the complex we can trace back relicts reaching from Gothic window jambs and Renaissance rooms to a wooden structure inserted in the 19th century. Throughout four halls today a “Raumlust” (joy of spaces) is released which sets the stage for one of the most spectacular collections of minerals in the world. By promenading through the exhibition the visitor encounters not only the world of minerals but also the building history of the castle.
Handrails, tables, doors, shutters are part of the individual experience of architecture beside their functional purpose. Throughout the castle they create a link between the structure und the identity of the new landlords. With their very existence they tell the story of their provenance. Thereby they have to fulfil the requirements of a new public building. A distinct concept of colour emphasizes particular rooms similar to mineral embeddings in a rock. All parts of the building stand for themselves by serving the whole at the same time.