Project 5: Lauchhammer Bio-Towers

Castel del Monte of Lusatia

Lauchhammer has an unusual development structure, with districts named Lauchhammer Nord, Süd, West, Ost, and Mitte distributed like islands amid a landscape of trees, meadows, spoil heaps, and industrial wastelands. The closure and demolition of the many briquette factories, power plants, and coking plants has removed the fabric that »glued« the town’s districts together. An entire large coking plant, for instance, has vanished from the cityscape. The Bio-Towers are the final relic, rising from a green industrial wasteland like a castle in the Scottish highlands.


The Bio-Towers date from the city of Lauchhammer’s founding years. This was not so long ago – in the nineteen-fifties, formerly independent villages like Mückenberg and Bockwitz came together to form the city of Lauchhammer, when a massive large-scale coking plant was built here. For the first time anywhere in the world, this coking plant produced coke suitable for smelting from lignite – in a technologically demanding procedure that provided the foundation for the GDR’s heavy industry. In 1991, before it was shut down, around 15,000 workers were employed at the coking plant, which covered about 122 hectares – about the size of a small town. Coke production also produced large amounts of phenolrich waste water. This was purified in the so-called tower dripper facility wastewater purification facilities with the help of bacteria: the Bio-Towers.


The IBA and the monument preservation authorities believed that demolishing the Bio-Towers would represent a huge and irreplaceable loss to Lauchhammer’s identity and to the memory of the first lignite coking plant in Germany. Feeling that this industrial relic had great potential for a new cultural use, the IBA banded together with the listed building authorities in a year-long fight to preserve this unique industrial monument, working strategically with city and local associations and groups like the Traditionsverein Braunkohle, the Heimatverein, the Lokale-Agenda-Gruppe and other bodies.

The Lauchhammer working group developed plans and concepts for preserving and finding a new use for the towers, and, to mobilise the population and advertise the project’s cultural value, the IBA and the Neue Bühne Senftenberg illuminated the Bio-Towers for a week. No sponsor was found, but the LMBV did postpone demolition until the end of 2003. This new ultimatum provided new scope for action. The IBA searched tirelessly for alternatives, in discussion with several ministries, in a campaign helped by the undeniable success of the nearby F60 Visitors’ Mine. At the instigation of the ministry for culture, the Kunstgussmuseum (Arts Casting Museum) Lauchhammer Foundation began negotiations with the LMBV – and was ultimately successful. In 2005, the »Biotürme Lauchhammer Gmbh,« specially created by the foundation itself, took over the complex, and, as contractor, began extensive renovation work.

The renovations and conversions took about two years. Based on a plan by the Cottbus firms Jähne & Göpfert and Zimmermann & Partner, one of the towers was also equipped with two glazed building turrets to

give visitors a special view of the towers and of the former coking plant site. In the area directly around the towers, the coking plant’s old geometrical grid structure has been recreated in concrete crosses to show visitors how the Bio-Towers were once part of a much larger facility. The 1.4 million euros needed to convert the towers came mainly from the European Fund for Regional Development (EFRE), and the Kunstgussmuseum (Arts Casting Museum) Lauchhammer Foundation contributed the money saved on demolition costs, which had been made available to the foundation by the LMBV.

The Bio-Towers industrial monument was finally opened for visitor tours and events in 2008. Since then, the Traditionsverein Braunkohle Lauchhammer has been showing in-terested guests around the site and the viewing turret tower. In 2009, the renovated towers were awarded both the Brandenburgischer Ingenieurspreis and the region’s own prize for listed structures. They are also on the »ENERGIE Heritage Route of Lusatian Industrial Culture« – part of the »European Route of Industrial Heritage« (ERIH) tourism project.


The Bio-Towers form a unique setting for a variety of events. Theatre performances, concerts, readings, art installations, and similar presentations can be held in the space between the towers, and there are plans for a permanent interactive light installation, or for a light sculpture arranged between the towers. There are also plans to add a small visitor’s centre with a restaurant and an exhibition space, which will also inform people about the history of the coking plant.

Opening Hours

Saturday, Sunday + Holiday 10 am - 6 pm and after arrangement
(from late March through October by appointment only)

Admission Price:

Adult 3 EUR
Children (up to 14 years) 1,50 EUR


Biotürme Lauchhammer gGmbH, L. Wilken Straatmann,
Phone: +49 (0)3574 - 860 604, e-mail:

Guided Tours

Traditionsverein Braunkohle Lauchhammer e.V
Dr. Konrad Wilhelm
Phone: +49 (0)3574 – 870473

Guided tours included in the admission price.
Bigger groups should apply for a guided tour.


Finsterwalder Straße 57, 01979 Lauchhammer-West

Our partners

Traditionsverein Braunkohle Lauchhammer e.V.
Stadt Lauchhammer
Stiftung Kunstgussmuseum Lauchhammer


Go by car to Bio-Towers Lauchhammer or by public transportation:

VBB fahrinfo - Link (mit Vorbelegung)
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last update: 1/26/2017 13:13