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Monday, August 1, 2011

Biorama aka The Water Tower House

Biorama aka The Water Tower House, Joachimsthal, Germany
Around 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 ...


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, Joachimsthal, GermanyClick For Image Source

Biorama aka The Water Tower House, Joachimsthal, Germany - Interior 1Click For Image Source

Biorama aka The Water Tower House, Joachimsthal, Germany - Interior 2Click For Image Source

Biorama aka The Water Tower House, Joachimsthal, Germany - Interior 3Click For Image Source

Biorama aka The Water Tower House, Joachimsthal, Germany - Interior 4Click For Image Source


  1. It's nice to see our location and home on your website, but I must add that the 'link' to our website is not correct. Our website can be found under www.biorama-projekt.org and IS in English and German. Maybe you can change this for us? If so thanks - Sarah Phillips.

  2. Hi Sarah

    I appreciate the comment and I will make the change this evening - I don't have access to the server to do so right now.

    If there are any other changes you feel ought to be made or you have any other comments I will be happy to make any necessary edits.

    Creating a website from research on the web leaves one very open to making mistakes or misinterpreting things and in every case where I have done so I appreciate those who know far more than I letting me know and helping me correct errors and improve the accuracy my site.

    I have to say as "Mr. Normal" living in a standard issue home I am sometimes a little envious of those of you out there who have a much more adventurous spirit and achieve something like your home which I think is really cool and fun.

    Let me know if there is anything else you feel I ought to change.

    Have a great day.