Perched high up on the ledge of a steep limestone ridge overlooking the Saale valley is a row of three castles, with the Old Castle at one end. It is a perfect spot to while away a few hours in the sun or enjoy the well-kept gardens and panoramic view across the valley. The Old Castle, now restored, has been used by the Friedrich Schiller University of Jena since 2005 as a conference centre and meeting location but it provides no overnight accommodation.
Behind the Old Castle is the Dornburg Estate, an ensemble of buildings including the former granary, tenant’s house, old pharmacy, manor and a row of barns. Unlike the castles, the buildings are in a state of disrepair. Formerly used to supply the university in Jena, the estate was used for agricultural purposes during GDR times, but has remained vacant since German reunification. The municipality of Dornburg-Camburg, the LEG Thüringen and the Thuringian Castles and Gardens Foundation are working together with the IBA Thuringia to revitalise the empty estate buildings. The reactivation of historical sites for use by public institutions establishes synergies and reciprocal connections between the town and country.
In 2019, the IBA Thuringia commissioned the office HENN Architekten to create a development plan for the Dornburg Estate. In three scenarios, they devised potential guiding principles for the future use of the estate buildings. On the basis of the development plan by HENN Architekten, it is intended to bring individual sub-projects into concrete realization and to make the outstanding quality of the site visible.
As flexible working patterns become more widespread and people become more mobile, the connection between Jena and Dornburg can benefit from the potential of the urban-rural StadtLand of Thuringia. Few places offer the opportunity to switch so easily between the high-tech facilities of the present day and historical legacy of the past.