0118 2100 Elsdorf am See ×

The Tagebau Hambach is the largest open-cast mine in Germany, with an area of 8,500 hectares. According to the operational planning approved in 1974, a total of 1,800 million tons of lignite are to be extracted here by 2045*. When production is completed, the open-cast mine will leave a hole up to 400 meters deep with an area of approximately 4,000 hectares that cannot be backfilled. This “volume deficit” is explained, in addition to the coal extracted, by overburden that was used to backfill neighboring open-cast fields. For the remaining pit the transformation into a “residual lake” is planned. With the shutdown of the sump pumps the groundwater needs about 200 years to rise to a target level of about 15 to 40 meters below ground level. However, by diverting water from the Rhine and Erft, the lake level is expected to have reached this level by 2100. The remaining lake will be the seventh largest inland lake in Germany with a surface area of 40 square kilometers. According to the current planning, the location and contour of the lake will be determined solely by operational aspects—without reference to the surrounding villages. Read more

The project, which was presented at the Regionale 2010, a regional project for integrated cultural landscape development in North Rhine-Westphalia, focuses on the natural, economic, and tourist potential of the lake. The project proposal 2100 Elsdorf am See aims to integrate the lake into its cultural context turning the Tagebau Hambach into a mechanically created landscape element. Within the given planning parameters (location of the open-cast mine field, mining progress, volume deficit, lake level), the course and profile of the shore are to be modified to such an extent that they relate to the neighboring villages and offer them a new horizon in terms of landscape and economy. The concept of the “fourth nature,” coined by Brigitte Franzen, serves as the basis for a future understanding of the “energy landscape.” The fourth nature transforms the landscape into an object of perception, which is completely detached from the idea of originality as a “natural” reference point for aesthetic evaluation and no longer distinguishes between natural and man-made phenomena. The new landscape becomes the scene and place of action of the operating nature system—energy and agriculture merge into one precept, one space, one imagination, one image.

*In the context of Germany’s transition to a fossil-fuel free energy mix, Germany adopted a coal exit law in January 2020. As a result, the Tagebau Hambach will be reduced in size by about one fifth of its area. Read less

2007 – 2100
Brandlhuber+ Büro für Konstruktivismus
Sandra Bartoli, Silvan Linden, Chrissie Muhr

Approved conversion compared to the proposed scheme © Brandlhuber+ Team

Zell am See on a postcard, about 1900

Rhenish lignite mining district