As the name suggests, the Kohlgrube, a district in the village of Wolfsegg am Hausruck in Upper Austria, was famous for its large deposits of brown coal. After almost 200 years of mining, the remnants of the Kohlebrecher Kohlgrube are a reminder of the former prosperity and subsequent decline of the region.
The Kohlebrecher is the last remaining reinforced concrete structure of the coal mine originally founded in 1794. In 1922 and 1923 the mine operator, Wolfsegg-Traunthaler Kohlenwerks AG, built a new facility to plans by the architect Wiechels. The coal fracturing and sorting plant is 20 meters high, 22 meters long and 9 meters wide. After fracturing and sorting, the coal was transported away by wagons.
As coal mining declined in the 1960s, the significance of the Kohlebrecher Kohlgrube began to wane. In 1966 it finally shut down and the facilities were left to decay. After several fires in 1968, the wooden façade was destroyed, leaving the naked concrete skeleton of the Kohlebrecher exposed. Nature gradually reclaimed the forgotten site. As a result, the entire coal mine vanished from the collective consciousness of the inhabitants of Wolfsegg for the next 20 years. Then, in 1988, Peter Weinhäupl, culture manager and Managing Director of the Leopold Museum in Vienna, rediscovered the Kohlebrecher Kohlgrube in what, by then, had become an overgrown wooded area.
Unlike the listed and well-known main grading facility and the Kohlebrecher Buchleiten at nearby Ampfelwang, the Kohlgrube coal plant had been completely forgotten and therefore never put under a preservation order. Its dilapidated condition was the main reason the public demanded its demolition; indeed, official approval for the blasting of the ruin had even been issued by the local authorities.
In 2000 Peter Weinhäupl bought the 18,000 square metre site at auction and, together with his architect brother Wolfgang Weinhäupl, proceeded to renovate the Kohlebrecher. Since then the Kohlebrecher has become a privately run cultural centre, the Kunstraum Kohlgrube. Several theatre performances by the local dramatic society Theater am Hausruck, art installations, concerts, readings and art festivals, such as the Festival der Regionen in 2003, have been held at the Kunstraum. Events such as these have brought the unloved building back into the public’s consciousness. As part of the overall renovation work, a terrace with a glass pavilion was incorporated and the subterranean catacombs and grading facility were made accessible to audiences in 2014.
Researcher Joshua Koeb
1923Industry: coal mine
2018 Public programme: art and festival location
1923 Wolfsegg-Traunthaler Kohlenwerks AG
2018 Peter Weinhäupl
Form of government
1923 Parliamentary Republic
2018 Parliamentary Republic
Spatial Planning Agency
Type of heritage and protection
2018 Heritage with no protection