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Exploited Ground tracing a shifting territory

Urban Design and Research


Type: Urban Design and Research / Status: Concept Project, UD Studio, TU Berlin /  Location: Berlin-Brandenburg, Germany / Year: 2020

Work in Collaboration with Pascal Müller

Rüdersdorf, a town with 15.800 inhabitants, is located in Brandenburg, in the east of Berlin. The main mobility infrastructures connecting Rüdersdorf to Berlin and Brandenburg are the highway B1/5, the motorway A10 which cuts through the town, the two railways in the north and the east, and the waterways. The major infrastructures on the site are the opencast limestone mine and the surrounding industrial areas which consist of factories mainly using the resources of the mine to produce building materials like cement and lime. Since 2005, Cemex, a multinational building materials company, has operated the mine and the cement factory. Other industrial and logistics infrastructures include a DHL parcel center, industrial parks, and shipping and storage facilities.

The major infrastructure of the site is the opencast limestone mine which is a significant element shaping the topography and town characteristics as well as the regional/national economy and building industry. Limestone was formed 245 million years ago in the Triassic period. Extraction in the site started around 1250 and has been taking place for about 800 years. The topography of the site and its surroundings changed drastically over time. From 1916 to 1975 opencast mine was flooded by the groundwater and became a popular lake where residents meet for leisure activities. In 1975, when the demand for lime increased as a result of the GDR housing program, the Heinetzsee was drained and disappeared as the pit was used for mining again. Extracting practices continued on different mine levels, starting at +35m and lowering to -35 m in time. As the mine expanded, people were relocated and historical residential neighborhoods were demolished. The terrain around the mine became a wasteland, changing the character of the town permanently.

The forecast exploitation to stop in 2062 poses the question about the future use of the limestone quarry: What future transformation scenarios can be applied/projected for this operational landscape that has been a landscape in transition since human extractive practices first unfolded there? Being a member of a wider network of industrial landscapes throughout Germany, that share a similar past of production and problematics of destruction to nature, will there be a shared future of potentials? There has been a “tradition” in the states of Brandenburg and Saxony to transform these wounded landscapes into lakes and natural protected areas. Albeit the successful transformation of these landscapes into lakes and leisure spaces are the common scenario, what can be alternative reclamation scenarios? How to imagine a landscape that is capable of pointing to past and future intersections of human(s) (needs) with this territory? Future components of this landscape could be the local production, consumption, and storage of distinctive energy forms and enhanced programs of a commemorative culture that help the site to remain physically and cognitively present as a transformative landscape of extraction.

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