Architecture Magazine

Biorama Aka The Water Tower House

By The Grumpy Old Limey @GrumpyOldLimey

Biorama aka The Water Tower House, Joachimsthal, GermanyAround 10 years or so ago while cycling Richard Hurding spotted an old run down water tower in the Schorfheide-Chorin Biosphere Reserve, a UNESCO nature reserve outside the town of Joachimsthal some 45 miles or so from the German capital, Berlin. Harding and his wife Sarah Philips, though both British, had worked in and explored many parts of the world and were looking for a new place to live. They had just found it. Both Harding and Philips were industrial designers ...




THE WATER TOWER HOUSE aka BIORAMA
Am Wasserturm 1, Joachimsthal, Germany
52°58'17.90"N 13°45'13.19"E
No Google Maps "Street View" Available - Not Included In Google Earth Tour


... but they had been looking for a project of their own; a departure from the corporate world and an opportunity to work on something that had some environmental value. Thus was born the Biorama or Water Tower House.
Turning the boarded up run down tower into their new home was not without its challenges. Permission was needed from the Barnim County authorities; as an incentive to the county the couple suggested that as part of the project a viewing platform be constructed on top of the tower from which visitors could view the reserve. The process was further complicated by the sites UNESCO status. In the end the appropriate permissions were granted and the couple were able to purchase about 3 acres of land around the tower. The tower itself as a designated historic landmark was not purchased but rather leased under an 99 year lease.
Once all the appropriate agreements were in place Berlin based architect Frank Meilchan was retained to help with the conversion and work began in earnest. The original water tank had to be removed from inside the tower and load bearing structures had to be constructed to hold aloft the new floors that were being put in. A second tower was constructed to house an elevator that would take visitors to and from the rooftop viewing platform. The European Union contributed something close to half of the estimated $800K conversion costs to cover the elevator and second tower. The end result was a well patronized tourist attraction and a 1500 square foot apartment on six levels for the couple. They dubbed their home Biorama; that name being a combination of the name of the nature reserve within which they now lived and the word panorama which understated the wonderful 360 views they had from the upper levels of their new residence.
As a tourist attraction the viewing tower has since been very successful and information about it can be found on the Biorama Projekt website.
Updated 092311



Biorama aka The Water Tower House


Biorama aka The Water Tower House

Biorama aka The Water Tower House


Biorama aka The Water Tower House

Biorama aka The Water Tower House



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Sources
Biorama Project Website
Joachimsthal Schorfheide Website
New York Times
BuzzBuzzHome
Mother Nature Network


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