Schwarzatal, Döschnitz Sommerfrische House

Schwarzatal, Döschnitz Sommerfrische House

Where urban meets rural

“Döschnitz is more than a way to escape the hectic pace of urban life; it is about escaping from the system, about the future heterotopia of StadtLand.”
Prof. Andreas Wolf, former member of the IBA Thüringen Advisory Board

The Schwarzatal, one of the most beautiful valleys in the Thüringer Wald region, was for years a holiday destination for city dwellers in need of relaxation. Its pleasantly cool summers, beautiful half-timbered houses and freshwater courses attracted people in droves. Today, however, most of the resort hotels are empty and have fallen into disrepair. At the same time, more and more city dwellers are rediscovering the qualities of the region.

The Döschnitz Sommerfrische House, built for the Böttner family of brewers in the 18th century, has since served as a refuge for displaced persons, the village council offices, a hunting lodge, local history museum and most recently contained a short-let holiday apartment. The newly founded association Haus Döschnitz e.V. has now taken on the historical half-timbered building with the intention of turning it into a place of exchange between the town and country and the urban and rural:

“The aim of the association is to establish a place of interaction and exchange between the urban and the rural with the help of local, regional and national participants. This can be in the fields of education and research, culture and history, and living and working. It aims to create a new place in which both individuals and groups can learn, work and live cooperatively in the context of the natural surroundings of the Schwarzatal – and to be a space that can stimulate social and democratic life in the local community through recurring programmatic impulses.” (Haus Döschnitz e.V. website)

In April 2018, the Jena-based architect Lina Maria Mentrup converted part of the house into a summer holiday apartment. Mentrup had undertaken a resourceful, low-key adaption of the local history museum into a further summer residence. Her sensitive approach to the historical building fabric, and the inexpensive, low-labour approach serves as a model for the renovation of other vacant properties in the region. With the work of the Haus Döschnitz e.V. association, the IBA project is now entering the next phase.

The Haus Döschnitz e.V. association is supported by the Stiftung trias Foundation, the Schwarzatal Futures Workshop and the IBA Thüringen.

The Sommerfrische holiday apartment in the 400-year-old half-timbered house in Döschnitz was completed in 2018. Photo: Dörthe Hagenguth.

Historical details were uncovered and made visible for the new summer residence and combined using simple means to create a comfortable, contemporary living atmosphere. Photo: Dörthe Hagenguth.

The sensitive, cost-effective partial renovation of the listed building pays respect to the historical building fabric and was awarded an architecture prize by the Thuringian Chamber of Architects in 2019. Photo: Dörthe Hagenguth.

As a “Sommerfrische” building, the house is open to the public on Open Monuments day and the “Sommerfrische Weekend” event in summer.