Project 7: LakeTown Senftenberg

Urban redevelopment at the lake

The lake at Senftenberg has been a very popular bathing resort – the first artificially created lake in the emerging Lusatian Lake Land – for almost forty years. And yet the town continues to turn its back on the lake – once a dusty lignite trench. All that is set to change: thanks to an ambitious harbour conversion, Senftenberg is finally opening up to its lake and becoming a »Lake Town.«


The Lake Senftenberger has been »Dresden’s bathtub« since 1973, with visitors streaming to its beaches from nearby Saxony every weekend of the summer. The lake we know today has perfect sandy beaches, wooded banks and campsites, sailing boats – everything a local pleasure spot needs. It is hard to believe that until 1966 this was the Niemtsch open-cast lignite mine. For thirty years, Senftenberg had a huge coal trench on its front doorstep – or rather, since Senftenberg’s town plan did its best to shut out the dusty open-cast mine – at its back.

When mining at Senftenberg ended, landscape planner Otto Rindt planned a chain of lakes which would include Niemtsch, along with open cast mines that were still active at the time – Koschen, Skado, Sedlitz and Meuro. Forty to fifty years later, the trenches had become the Lakes Senftenberg, Geierswalde, Partwitz, Sedlitz, and Ilse. Otto Rindt is therefore considered the godfather of the Lake Senftenberg and of the Lusatian Lake Land in general. The Niemtsch was cleaned up, recultivated and flooded based on his plans. Many of the lake’s beaches, campsites and water sports facilities were created in the nineteen-seventies. Today, this former GDR flagship project is still a pleasure spot and an ideal holiday destination.

The city of Senftenberg, however, has long been reluctant to open itself up to the lake – making the lake is hard to find unless one knows the territory. Senftenberg’s streets, public squares, and structures always point inward. In the town centre, access to the bank is blocked by a bank of slab-constructed buildings and by the Schwarze Elster river, which runs parallel to it.


The goal of the IBA project is to unite the tourist potential of the Lake Senftenberg and the development of the town, with the emphasis on connecting the restored Senftenberg old town with the lake. In 2003, a Europe-wide conceptual competition called EUROPAN 7 produced a wide variety of ideas, which were turned into a use concept by the winners – together with the IBA, the city, and a homes company.

In 2005, a joint campaign by the city and IBA made the people of Senftenberg more aware of their lake by inviting them to cross the Schwarze Elster on concrete blocks – symbolically reconnecting the city and the lake. In 2006, an eleven-storey panel construction between the inner city and the lake was demolished in the course of the city transformation program, reducing the impression of separation.

The decision to connect the Lake Senftenberg to the Lake Geierswald and the whole lake network by means of a canal was followed by the idea that the city that will one day be at the heart of the Lusatian Lake Land should have its own harbour, to fit Senftenberg for its increasing water sports popularity, and to connect the city with the lake in architectural and urban planning terms. This idea was combined with the EUROPAN concepts to create an overall urban plan. In 2007, as the first architectural step towards the new city harbour, the Wasserverband Lausitz (WAL) built its new customer centre with restaurant. Its terrace provides a view of the water – and, one day soon, of the city harbour.

Based on the completed overall plan, the IBA and the city ran an architectural competition in 2009 to design a new city harbour. It was won by a working group of three firms: the Berlin landscape architects BGMR, ASTOC Architects & Planners from Cologne, and ECOSYSTEM SAXONIA from Dresden. Their prize-winning design focuses on a bowlshaped quay and a delicate bridge on the lake.


Work on the harbour project will be officially begun in 2010 – the IBA’s presentation year. Its opening – and that of the navigable canal to the Lake Geierswalde – is planned for 2012. As well as being Senftenberg’s access to the Lusatian Lake Land, the harbour will be a new urban space for the historic inner city that will enhance the entire city’s attractiveness for inhabitants and tourists. The harbour will give Senftenberg a new feature, a new image and a new flair. The Schlosspark and the Tiergarten will also improve the city of Senftenberg by creating a beautiful connection between the inner city and the city harbour. The harbour will be run by the Zweckverband Lausitzer Seenland Brandenburg.


Go by car to the Lake Town Senftenberg or by public transportation:

VBB fahrinfo - Link (mit Vorbelegung)
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last update: 1/26/2017 13:13