The path to bliss: New skywalk for the Leuchtenburg
Architect: Bau-Consult Hermsdorf GmbH in cooperation with Silke Loose, Dippoldiswalde
Location: Leuchtenburg, 07768 Seitenroda, Germany
Client: Leuchtenburg Foundation
Contractor: RSB Rudolstädter Systembau GmbH
When the permanent exhibition »Porcelain Worlds of Leuchtenburg« opened in 2014, the castle – which had stood empty for the previous 17 years – was modernized and given new life. The concept for the unusual exhibition is based on making »white gold« interesting again, discovering its various facets and involving visitors in a direct way. In all, seven Porcelain World displays have been conceptualized by a number of artists, designers and architects in order to reinforce the aesthetic transition to the different theme-based spaces called New Worlds. First, visitors will examine the vulnerability of fine porcelain in the Archive of Desire, which operates under the motto »Shards are lucky«. Here, every guest can take a shard of porcelain from a bowl and write a secret wish on it under black light. In daylight, the wishes are invisible; thus the secrets are preserved. The path leads to the exit from the room into a new world, the 20-metre-long Skywalk of Desire, which juts far over the castle walls and is breathtaking not only for its panoramic views of the Thuringian Saale Valley. At the end of the skywalk, the glass floor suggests a tension-filled weightlessness, while the glazed parapet invokes the feeling that the skywalk simply dissolves into sky. This is where the wishes on porcelain are thrown over the castle hill to shatter 25 metres below on a heap of shards. This old ritual is said to make the wishes come true. The individual steel components of the skywalk were prefabricated, galvanized and coated directly at the company Rudolstädter Systembau GmbH. Transporting them by flatbed truck up the narrow road to the castle was a certain challenge, to say nothing of the step-by-step assembly using a mobile crane. The supporting structure consists of a trough-bridge construction: characteristic features are the exterior girders and the low overall building height. The skywalk is supported by bundles of tension and compression struts fixed directly to a reinforced concrete raft footing on the slope of the hill. This is further reinforced by means of microdrilled piles in the limestone. The supporting structure is clad with rear-ventilated fibre-cement plates in a subdued grey-brown. The floor is covered with shiny, silver-coloured perforated grilles which stand out from the smooth Eternit panels not only in terms of colour, but also in their texture. The panels have been attached in increasingly narrow vertical and diagonal cuts which create a dynamic look and take up the theme of fragile, shattered fragments of porcelain. In the evening, a »lightline« at handrail level provides sufficient illumination. This emits light in the magenta theme colour of the entire exhibition and aids in orientation. This unconventional exhibition, which leads to the architectural climax of the skywalk, invites visitors to experience a sensual journey through the world of porcelain. The design and static challenge of the new attraction at the Leuchtenburg seems to be a success.