The tours do not promise too much. One is called “Journey to Mars”, another “Jeep-Safari”. They lead deep into a scarred, alien landscape of yawning chasms, pockmarked excavations and strange gorges. The Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) visitor centre in Großräschen, Fürst-Pückler-Land, glows like a silver stripe on the horizon of this wilderness, once the Meuro open-cast mine in Lusatia. The main feature of the ultra-modern building is a 270-metre long terrace, housing three exhibition and events areas and offering an uninterrupted view of the moonscape below. A seemingly pointless bridge reaches 60 metres into the former pit. In actual fact, it will one day be reflected in the waters of the Ilse Lake as the Meuro pit is being flooded to make the IBA Terraces into a waterfront attraction by 2018.
Lusatia boasts a long tradition as a workshop for new landscapes. For more than 100 years giant lignite excavators have ripped deep wounds in the ground, engulfing villages, forests and fields, and leaving a legacy of exposed earth and bizarre landscapes. This has left its mark on the industrial region and its people in every respect. In the meantime, Lusatia has been undergoing a radical transformation: the days of lignite are numbered, power stations and briquetting plants are falling like dominoes and the past is being obliterated. By contrast the IBA is providing impetus for the future, with floating homes on flooded pits, cultivation on former industrial sites, and special interest tours in unique mining landscapes. Moreover, the Ilse Lake is just one of 20 former lignite pits which are currently being flooded and will in just a few years evolve together to form Europe’s largest artificial group of lakes, the Lausitzer Seenland (Lusatian Lakeland). As the visitor centre for the Internationale Bauausstellung, the IBA Terraces will be showcasing all these projects, using alternating exhibitions to help visitors gain a direct understanding of the history and development of the Lusatia mining region.