Colditz castle: fire-protection in a historical building

The recently renovated 'schloss Colditz' in Saxony, Germany is a great example of how to reconcile the often conflicting demands of historic preservation and fire-protection. The Renaissance castle, built in the 1520s, lies in the triangle between Leipzig, Dresden and Chemnitz.

The renovation has not just fulfilled fire-protection requirements but the planners have used extremely discreet solutions that fit with historic preservation requirements. For example, many of the passageways have been fitted with the Teckentrup T30 all-glass doors, which combine functionality with aesthetics and maximum transparency.

The Colditz castle in the heart of Saxony is a magnet for tourists and, with its white gables, is one of the most beautiful 16th century buildings in Central Germany.  The majority of the splendid architecture dates back to the early Renaissance period with some portions having a late Gothic influence. Both periods are easily recognisable. The castle is not only famous for its architecture but also for the role it played during the Second World War.

With its white facades, the Renaissance Colditz castle in the heart of Saxony is one of the most beautiful 16th century buildings in Central Germany.
Thanks to its transparency, the T30 all-glass door has been unobtrusively and harmoniously integrated into the Renaissance castle.

Klassischer Durchgang mit Bogen. In diesen historischen Baukörper eine passende Brandschutztür einzufügen, war ein zu hoher Aufwand. Die Lösung: Raumseitig wurde ein Stahlrahmen aufgestellt, in den die T30-Ganzglastür in den Maßen 1.200 mal 2.070 Millimeter eingesetzt wurde.

It was used as a prisoner-of-war camp for allied officers, including Winston Churchill's nephew. Today the "escape museum" shows the original locations of camp life and displays tools made by the captives. Concerts and guided tours are also part of the cultural programme at Colditz as the castle is home to the Saxony state music academy and a youth hostel.

The building was successfully restored between 1997 and 2005. During this time the prisoner-of-war camp was rebuilt along with repairing signs of wear and tear from the war era. The 2013 to 2015 renovations focused on the castle's chapel.

Museum, tourist attraction, youth hostel - all these areas required high level fire protection which needed to be balanced with the historical preservation requirements of the building. The designer found a non-standard solution which fulfilled both sets of requirements - installing frameless Teckentrup T30 all-glass doors in the passageways. They combine modern fire-protection with demanding aesthetic requirements and blend discreetly into the background. Michael Larisch, Teckentrup's door expert, oversaw the project: "There was no problem in getting approval from the preservation authorities to install the T30 all-glass doors in Colditz castle. Thanks to their transparency they were integrated unobtrusively into the historical building."

The all-glass door is available in a single leaf or double leaf design. There is also an extensive range of accessories, such as door drives, stainless steel slide rail door closers and a selection of frames (corner frames, counter frames, closed frames, block frames), which make it possible to install the door in almost any type and thickness of wall. The smoke-proof version of the door has a retractable bottom seal. Also, different level handle sets can be used including those from other doors. The result is a uniform look across all the internal doors, whether they are fire doors or not.

The T30 all-glass door adapts easily to the structural conditions of any building, whether a new build or a renovation. In the Colditz castle, besides the old masonry and the more modern dry wall construction, a transparent door also had to be built into a stone wall. The appropriate frame solution facilitates installation into nearly all types of wall. 

Teckentrup assisted the building owner throughout the planning process to ensure that the installation ran smoothly. Intelligent accessories such as specific transport/assembly trolleys ensured that the building site did not pose any problems. "The aim in the castle was to not fill it with fire protection barriers despite installing fire protection throughout", smiled Larisch. This has been achieved in an exemplary way with the glass-door: the transparency preserves the view of traditional construction.


View of the castle's chapel: In order to preserve the look of the historical building, fire-protection measures which comply with historical preservation requirements have been used.
In the wider entrance passageway the door was manufactured in a double leaf construction with the outline of the castle being etched onto the glass.

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