Office Outing 2022 – On Deserts and Oases

Bueroausflug 2022

The annual office outing took us to Cottbus on 02.09.2022. The second-largest city in Brandenburg is well known to us through a variety of projects. Nevertheless, it was time to introduce the entire team to two special places in the city that, more than any other, stand for a radical change in the landscape: Cottbuser Ostsee and Branitz Castle Park.

On to the lake

The first destination of our excursion was the Merzdorf lookout tower at Cottbus Ostsee. Here Ilona Kiese and Stefan Simonides-Noack from the Cottbus city administration informed us about the development of the master plan and the ongoing renaturation project. In the coming years, Germany’s largest artificial inland lake will be created from the still partly desert-like area of a former open-cast lignite mine. Flooding of the 19 km² area is ongoing, despite the extended dry periods in recent years.

According to the operator LEAG, bathing is planned before the end of the decade. As a new natural and local recreation area, the Ostsee will become an oasis for flora, fauna and all Cottbus residents seeking recreation. In addition, urban development measures on the southern shore of the lake will provide regional impulses.I will create a spatial link to Cottbus city centre and the neighbouring villages – such as Branitz, which is not far away.

Off to the park

The second item on the agenda of our office excursion was Branitz Castle Park. After being welcomed by SFPM board member Dr Stefan Körner, Christoph Haase, head of the Branitz Baumuniversität, led us through the castle park, which is of national importance. He vividly described to us Prince Pückler’s vision at the time of a green oasis in the sands of the Mark Brandenburg, his design creativity and his inventiveness in landscaping. Special attention was also paid to the practical challenges of park maintenance and the progressive change in the park’s appearance due to numerous drought-related woody plant losses. Christoph Haase also discussed the project of the New Branitz Baumuniversität. It is a further development of Pückler’s original idea to grow our own stately – now also climate-adapted – woody plants.

After a midday snack in the Cavalierhaus, with a proper Prince Pückler cake as dessert, we visited the castle. There, Dr Simone Neuhäuser, Head of the Museum & Collection Department, gave us an anecdotal account of Pückler’s castle and his time, as well as his self-image, his activity, and his rich cultural heritage.

Both Cottbus and its old and new landscapes are really worth a visit.

In addition to the recently finalised development concept for the New Branitz Baumuniversität, our office is currently preparing the overall compensation concept for the circular path along the Cottbus Ostsee, as well as the landscape plan for the city of Cottbus, which will be completed in the forthcoming year.