Project 3: Floating discovery centre "The Sun" at Lake Bergheide

Sun meets Steelgiant

What sets the Lusatian Lake Land apart from other German lake districts is that it is manmade. The artificial lakes are part of a unique cultural landscape – compelling witnesses to industrial history. Floating houses are becoming a distinctive feature of these new lakes. It is hoped that people will be able to experience all the Lusatian Lake Land’s unique attractions at Lichterfeld: they will have Lake Bergheide as a bathing lake for families, the F60 industrial monument on its bank, and a floating event and discovery centre on the lake itself.


Where the waters of the Lake Bergheide shine in the sun today, 500 inhabitants of the community of Bergheide used to live before 1987. Like many other villages – and large parts of Klettwitz – Bergheide disappeared into the open-cast mines. Lignite mining here ended in 1992; other open-cast mines in the surrounding area had closed down some years previously. The whole Lauchhammer, Annahütte and Lichterfeld-Schacksdorf area was a huge, bizarre moonscape. In the years that followed, the Lausitzer und Mitteldeutsche Bergbau-Verwaltungsgesellschaft (LMBV) had to reclaim these huge areas, remove the rails and mining equipment and make the landscape – with its deep craters, patches of desert, and dusty waste tips – fit for human habitation again. In 2001, as part of the restoration process, the LMBV began flooding the so-called residual cavity left behind by the open-cast mine.


The flooding is still taking place; the Lake Bergheide is expected to reach its final level in 2012. It is 320 hectares wide, making it one of the Lusatian Lake Land’s smaller lakes – but it has one very special feature. Since 2002, the F60 Visitors’ Mine – one of the biggest visitor magnets in the region – has been standing on its banks.

The opening of the Visitors’ Mine led to plans by the community of Lichterfeld-Schacksdorf and the municipal federation of Kleine Elster to develop the surrounding area and the future Lake Bergheide for tourism, to compliment the F60. Together with the IBA and its partners, they developed various visions and concepts. During the planning process, the IBA kicked off the idea of floating architecture on the Lake Bergheide – an equally strong symbol of Lusatia’s future in a conspicuous location, at the foot of the old F60 mining machine (a symbol of the economic past). Floating homes would also be a symbol of the changing energy economy and of Lusatia’s transformation into a tourist region. The IBA’s »floating architecture« theme – already implemented for a few other lakes – was to be taken a step further at the Lake Bergheide by creating a sustainable and mobile floating house run on renewable energy.

The IBA first presented the LOMA Kassel architecture firm’s design for an event and discovery centre in the shape of a rising sun in 2007. 2009’s master plan and building plan show a combined development of land-based and floating holiday homes, with the »Sun« as the spectacular centre of the floating housing development.


When complete, the »Sun« will be accessible via a walkway 250 metres long. Weights and chains anchored to the lake bed hold the building in position. The hemisphere projects at least ten metres above the water level, enclosing a restaurant with a lounge and terraces and spaces for events and exhibitions, arranged on two levels. Renewable energy is a priority: a system of heat pumps, heat exchanges, photovoltaic systems, and natural ventilation (combined with the temperature-regulating properties of the surrounding water) should significantly reduce the building’s energy needs.

The »Sun« is intended as a first step towards developing the location – to be followed by hotels, restaurants, camp sites, harbours, and various sports and leisure facilities. The whole area should be largely self-sufficient in energy terms, with the energy it needs produced locally from renewable sources. The »Sun« is also a reference project and showcase for »Green Building.« This is structural transformation in action: a coal trench that once produced fossil fuels, has been made into a showcase for renewable energy.

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last update: 1/26/2017 13:13