A historical building becomes a library

The former district office of Reuss, in the thuringian small-town Schleiz, can provide an impressive history. Built in 1883, it served several purposes and was severely damaged during World War 2; lately the rooms were empty and left to decay. When the persons in charge decided to repurpose the historical building to become the town’s public library “Dr. Konrad Duden”, they were facing a big challenge: under the premises of renovating the building to be energy-efficient, they also had to combine the, oftentimes contradictory, requirements of safeguard of the cultural and environmental heritage. A complex reconstruction and restoration of the historical building was necessary in order to create a contemporary and user-friendly public library- a modern learning and engaging place in the centre of the palace grounds of Schleiz.

A moving history and a promising future

The district office of Reuss in Schleiz was built in 1838 and was severely damaged during World War 2. Previously to its broad renovation, the building was temporarily used as paediatric surgery, X-ray station and children- and youth centre until it remained empty for some time. Instead of leaving the historic building to decay, Schleiz’s townsmen decided to make it a place of learning and engaging- the small intellectual centre of the town: The former district office in the middle of the towns palace grounds was to become the home of the public library “ Dr. Konrad Duden” of Schleiz.

In order to do that, the town bought the listed building from the district of Saale-Orla in 2008, and renovated it according to the latest energetic standards. By the means of subsidies, as the Future Investment Act (ZuInVG) and the Program for Urban Development Renewal and Development (BL-SE), the town was able to plan and realise the complex reconstruction and conversion of the listed historical building into a contemporary and user-friendly public library.

Between monument protection and minimum air exchange rate

According to Thomas Haberkern, head of the department of building inspection, the parallel consideration of all the legal requirements concerning climate protection, thermal insulation, and preservation of historical monuments was a challenge from the very beginning. “Minding all the standards had to be accompanied by the high-quality work on the buildings classicistic facade” said Haberkern.

Simultaneously, the guidelines of the general office for public libraries, as well as work place guidelines for the composition of public buildings, had to be taken under consideration. Following this, the legally required minimum air exchange rate was accomplished “Depending on how many persons are to be in a public building, certain marks of air exchange have to be reached.  We planned an air exchange of three to five times the standard for Schleiz’s new library.” Marco Rudolph, CEO of PEM-energy GmbH, explained as he took responsibility for this project in terms of the technical building planning process and energy consulting.

The solution is a flexible ventilation system

The construction work began in 2009 and was done with special consideration of a user-specific normative, the physical structure, as well as planning- and operating- aspects concerning sustainability and energy.  A total core removal of the building’s wings and a partial reconstruction of the staircases next to the introduction of an elevator to establish a barrier free use in der centre of the building were to be implemented.  Special attention was given to the basic historical building structures. The preliminary plan to install a central ventilation system in the head-end turned out to be unconvertible.

“The required air exchange rate would have to have made use of a centralised ventilation device in the size of a VW-bus “, Rudolph explained. “Contrary to that was a utilization plan that included a lot of open and light surfaces, with only limited room for technical devices.  Therefore we decided to use a flexible decentralised ventilation system.”

The technical planner was very satisfied with the installation of decentralised ventilation systems due to their numerous advantages. The fact that decentralised ventilation systems are much less in need of constructional work was said to be contributing to the project. “Since the decentralised ventilation can do without additional ducts, we were able to preserve the cross vaults on the ground floor. The piping of a centralised system would have disrupted that”, Haberkern specified and added also aesthetic advantages:” The decentralised systems mostly vanish in the walls. Therefore it was relatively easy to satisfy the monuments protection authorities: We synchronised the external cover with the colour of the facade and placed the fans right below the windows. The fans, or their external covers are only just recognisable and the building’s appearance is not disturbed.”

Efficient with cross ventilation


The whole building was equipped with ventilation systems by the inVENTer GmbH.  While the wall sleeves were already fitted during the construction phase, the fans only got their core technology towards the final stages of construction.  A total of 20 fans of inVENTer’s iV25 as well as 2 inVENTer iV14R were installed. In the public library in Schleiz, they are venting a volume of 1,839 m² of air- in the main rooms as well as in the separate section for children and in the foyer. The adjusting of the ventilations systems is possible due to five of inVENTer’s ZR30- and one ZR6 controller.

The inVENTer fans are working in cross ventilation: When one fan is suctioning, filtrating and distributing fresh air from the outside into the room, the second fan simultaneously extracts the used air from the room. The fans are rotating in one way for 70 seconds at a time, before they change the direction. Previously to the release of the fresh air into the room, the thermal accumulator in the fan is heating up the cold air with the previously accumulated warmth of the extracted air.  In addition to this alternating operation mode there is a possibility of permanent ventilation.

Award-winning fusion of climate- and monuments protection

With the climate friendly modification from a historic building to the public library ”Dr. Konrad Duden”, the small-town Schleiz has managed to combine climate- with monument protection in a unique way. In just two years construction-time and on a net floor space of 534m², the new library provides a place for reading and engagement. The official initiation of the library took place on May 5th 2011. The exemplary technical and constructional arrangements in favour of climate protection, the project was awarded in the category “Climate Protection for local Properties” in the course of the contest “Communal Climate-Protection 2013”.

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