Project 6: Marga Industrial Estate and Garden City

Power cathedrals and marigolds

Marga, Germany’s oldest garden city development, has for many years been a virtually forgotten »Sleeping Beauty.« After being kissed awake in the past few years, it has now been restored to its full glory, while the neighbouring industrial park in Brieske at Senftenberg has become an innovative production site for the new energy economy. Between them, the garden city and this site embody the original idea of uniting workplaces and housing.


The area between Grossräschen and Senftenberg became a focal point of industry in Lusatia – centred on the village of Bückgen. Starting in 1906, the historic Ilse Bergbau-Actiengesellschaft (I.B.A.) commissioned Dresden architect Georg Heinsius von Mayenburg to build a residential development in Brieske for its employees at the Marga trench and the nearby industrial complexes. The »Kolonie Marga«, with its unusual circular outline, was completed in 1914. Impressive art nouveau public buildings were grouped around the large, grand public marketplace. The infrastructure was excellent; besides sunny individual homes with their own gardens, it included a school, a department store, various businesses, the »Kaiserkrone« guesthouse, and even the community’s own church.

»Marga« was the beginning of the German social housing reform movement – a reaction to the poor living conditions endured by workers in the fast-growing cities of the time. Marga is therefore usually described as Germany’s first garden city, even though the Deutsche Gartenstadtgesellschaft (or German Garden City Society) was not involved in its building.
This factory town’s original buildings are still standing, but have suffered decades of neglect. Some fell derelict in the nineteen-nineties, and their cultural history and architectural and urban planning significance has been largely forgotten. After the reunification, the neighbouring industrial sites were largely cleared of their historical industrial buildings so they could one day be turned into a modern commercial area.


This industrial estate/garden city was central to the region’s heritage, making it an ideal IBA launch project – and the IBA has since been active in preserving and developing the residential development and the industrial park. The Treuhand Liegenschaftsgesellschaft (TLG), the development’s owner, restored it (while preserving its historic appearance) between 1998 and 2000 with the help of Brandenburg state funds. In 2000, Marga was part of the EXPO show.

During the renovation, the number of living units inside the seventy-two apartment buildings was reduced from 500 to 396 to satisfy modern demands for more living space. All of the apartments are leased – but some of the business spaces on the marketplace and around the village green-like »Margahof« (which has also been renovated), are still unoccupied. The guest house and cultural venue »Kaiserkrone« still exists today. The neighbouring »Konzertgarten« and its music pavilion were also renovated, and the »Kaiserkrone’s« lost coffee garden was reconstructed. The large school overlooking the marketplace was also renovated, and a private primary school, a kindergarten, and private further education services took up residence in 2009. Today, residents and visitors can enjoy a development with plenty of private and public green spaces, a variety of houses and lovingly created details.

Only a few of the buildings on the neighbouring industrial site with the briquette factory remain. The listed buildings – the power centre, the baths, plus a few small adjoining buildings – are compelling witnesses to the site’s industrial history. These had to be renovated and made safe, while the rest of the buildings had to be demolished and the site had to be connected to the modern industrial park. The work of the Senftenberger Wirtschaftsförderung, the LMBV and the IBA was vindicated when a solar cell factory and a large biogas system were set up on the 114-hectare industrial park. The biogas manufacturer sources raw materials from local landowners, giving them a new role as energy producers and testing by-product fertilisers on the post-mining landscapes.

The IBA sees the garden city and the industrial park as a single cultural and historical unit. This is a perfect example of how to preserve and revive piece of industrial culture – as seen in homes and workplaces.


The derelict garden city has been preserved, renovated and largely brought back to life – but the old ballroom (part of the »Kaiserkrone«) has been standing empty for years. As a result of various Senftenberg cultural activists suggesting interesting possibilities, the ballroom – the last non-renovated part of Marga – is to be restored in 2011 by Lausitzer Bildungsträger gGmbH (a private company). Its users will include a dancing school, and it may also be useful to the nearby primary school.

The plan is to bring typical Lusatian handcrafts, art products, and small restaurants to the Margahof (behind the marketplace and the department store) to create a unique atmosphere and experience. The site would attract visitors looking for original souvenirs of their journey through the Lusatia Lake Land – souvenirs that they had actually seen made.

Sustainable uses also had to be found for certain areas and buildings in the industrial park – the future of the historic mine baths and the power centre is still in development. Art events or disco evenings in the power central have raised the project’s profile in recent years and offered a potential new start. The aim of developing both buildings as landmarks for the industrial park and as a hub for the community remains unrealised. Other options for preserving and repopulating the new buildings are being reviewed.

Download the flyer: Marga Industrial Estate and Garden City (1.3 MB)

Our partners

Lausitzer und Mitteldeutsche Bergbau-Verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH
Stadt Senftenberg
TLG Immobilien


Go by car to Marga Industrial Estate and Garden City or by public transportation:

VBB fahrinfo - Link (mit Vorbelegung)
go back

last update: 1/26/2017 13:13