The lusatian lakeland Cover Image
  • Price 2.00 €

The lusatian lakeland
The lusatian lakeland

An Eastern German project for the transformation of an industrial opencast mining landscape

Author(s): Rolf Kühn
Subject(s): Fine Arts / Performing Arts
Published by: Historický ústav SAV, v. v. i.
Keywords: transformation of an industrial opencast mining landscape;public interest; economic success in the Lusatian lakeland

Summary/Abstract: The end of the GDR regime raised the question in the federal states of Brandenburg and Saxony in the east of Germany of what to do with the devastated lunar landscapes in the Lusatian mining district and the opencast mines which were suddenly no longer needed. The popular view, which soon became widespread, was to eliminate all traces of the legacy of the industrial and mining past as far as possible, demolishing all the briquetting factories, coking plants and power stations as well as all the chimneys, in an attempt to bury the memories of polluted air, soil and water long with their physical remains. The vast opencast pits were to be reinvented as lakes for swimming and boating, as planned by the proposal of the Mecklenburgische Seenplatte or Mecklenburg Lake District.From an economic point of view, the long-term focus in the east of Germany, Lusatia naturally included, was on prolonging the industrial policy and the promotion of business development as instruments which had stood the test of decades. Consequently it is no wonder that in the Saxon part of Lusatia, the “Karl-May-Land” project was initiated, a large-scale post-mining landscape development project aimed at creating the illusion of an American Western landscape of Indian reservations and open prairies. However, such projects hang by “30 threads”, and if just one of these threads breaks (the investor pulls out, the government funding does not materialise, the water doesn’t rise as planned…), the whole project is shelved – as happened in the end.The Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) Fürst-Pückler-Land (2000 – 2010), by contrast, had 30 projects and therefore 30 feet to stand on, which could support and stabilise each other. The initiators of the IBA Fürst-Pückler-Land staked everything on a large number of smaller individual projects, on endogenous potential, and on networking and cooperation between the key players in the region. The vision was for Lusatia to become a workshop for new landscapes, providing the resources for a new type of man-made environment to emerge from the post-mining landscapes. In short, the aim was an environment that does not disown its industrial past and acts as a vehicle to carry the long tradition of innovations in engineering through to the modern era.As far back as 2009, the IBA conference “Post-Mining Landscape” confirmed that although there may be more spectacular projects in other places, it was the first time that anything had been undertaken on this scale anywhere in the world, with 30 individual projects involving the local people and following a clearly-defined philosophy of the recreation of a landscape laid waste. After intensive study of the region, it soon became clear that the most pressing challenges resulted from the devastation of the environment over the past decades and from the loss of the livelihood of tens of thousands of energy industry workers. At the same time, there was more to Lusatia than its mining past. In fact, the towns and cultivated landscapes reflect an extremely varied history. The IBA succeeded in preserving the old and bringing in the new, enhancing the historic core and adding high-quality contemporary layers in an expression of modernity. The key was to keep the balance between preserving the old and adding the new because both are equally important to the general public.THE LARGEST AREA OF MAN-MADE LAKES IN EUROPEWhat is being developed in the centre of the post-mining landscape of Lusatia is the largest area of man-made lakes in Europe, and also one of the largest lake districts in Germany, larger than Lake Müritz. Nor is there any attempt to hide the fact from the onlooker that these lakes are manmade. The fault lines between industry and nature are what render this landscape so interesting and appealing. Despite 150 years of mining, despite industrialisation on a massive scale, and despite the presence of housing for tens of thousands of workers, the region has always kept its rural charm. Here the original historic landscape of the Spree Forest meets monotone conifer plantations, and old cultivated landscapes with traditional orchards meet vast deserts of lignite-mining land. Power plants and factories are dotted throughout the expanse, seemingly randomly, like monuments to industry.This stark contrast between nature and industry is a distinguishing feature of the Lusatian Lakeland. The IBA wanted to emphasise this contrast and ran an architectural competition with the town of Senftenberg for a “Lusatian Lakeland landmark” in its quest for a tangible symbol. The commission was to design a viewing tower in the heart of the lakes on the Sorno Canal between Lake Sedlitz and Lake Geierswalde, and between the states of Brandenburg and Saxony, which would be a symbol of the transformation of the landscape. Made from rust-coloured Corten steel, the landmark as it stands today is a conscious reminder of the industrial (evolutionary) history of the lake district and of steel mining equipment, while the sculpturally conceived staircase is an artistic expression of new beginnings, of the future of the Lakeland and of Lusatia.The aim pursued by all the people involved in the process of designing and flooding the Lusatian Lakeland, on both sides of the border separating Brandenburg and Saxony, is to link the 10 lakes at the heart of the developing area of over 20 lakes in such a way that there is enough water to flow through the 12 navigable waterways and also to allow boats to pass from one lake to the next. A master plan for this core area drawn up jointly by Brandenburg and Saxon planners envisages a wide range of different uses, ranging mainly from water sports and family activities up to nature conservation areas. The resulting area of linked lakes will be a huge expanse of water totalling around 7,000 hectares, with areas of unspoiled nature, designated areas for different activities, and a broad range of uses thought to be unparalleled in Central Europe...

  • Issue Year: 48/2014
  • Issue No: 3-4
  • Page Range: 202-213
  • Page Count: 12
  • Language: English