Project 27: Floating homes on Gräbendorfer See

Diving in the opencast mine

Because the Lake Gräbendorf was the first of the Lusatian Lake Land’s new lakes and has already reached its target water level, development is proceeding apace here. What began with a floating diving school in Laasow is becoming a new icon of the Lusatian Lake Land, with more and more of the lakes enhanced by the addition of individual buildings or whole estates that float on the water. And development is still continuing on the Lake Gräbendorf.


Lignite was mined in the Gräbendorf open-cast mine for a little over ten years before it was shut down in 1992. The little village of Gräberdorf was torn down shortly before the shutdown, as there were plans to mine the lignite beneath it. Today, rubble marks where the houses used to be, while disused mining machinery and an old coal barge have been rearranged by Berlin action artist Ben Wagin to create a huge installation to remind people of the vanished village.
The lake – named after the bygone village – is another reminder. Because the open-cast mine was worked for such a short time, it left a relatively small hole, whose restoration and flooding did not take very long. The Lake Gräbendorf is relatively small – only 450 hectares wide.


From the start, the IBA was interested in presenting floating houses in the Lusatian Lake Land. In its early years, it arranged workshops, exhibitions, and two trips to Holland to stir up enthusiasm for floating houses in the region and to gain allies for its cause. In 2003, some projects were presented in the »see-Haus« exhibition; these were later realised on a larger scale – with some changes – at Lake Gräbendorf and Lake Geierswald.
Over the following years both the geotechnical and the legal aspects of floating house projects proved a challenge for all parties. The territory was unfamiliar to everyone. Even the fundamental question of whether construction law or water law applied took some time to clear up. To demonstrate that the project was fundamentally sound, the IBA and the city of Vetschau planned a prototype house on the Lake Gräbendorf, near the outlying Vetschau community of Laasow. This site was chosen because the lake would be fully flooded by 2007 and the water level was not expected to rise rapidly in the few remaining years. The lake was also clean enough to bathe in and accessible via a much-used new lakeside track for cyclists and roller skaters.

Both private and commercial investors showed interest in the plans, which married the location’s first floating house with an ideal commercial use: a diving school. A Cottbus businessman who was also a former professional diver invested in the project. In 2005, the project partners could finally start building the external facilities: the car park, the beach bar, the slipway for boats, and a pontoon on the water about sixty-three metres long. The following summer, the floating diving school began offering classes – and has remained a popular destination for locals and Lake Land visitors ever since.


There is considerable interest in the floating house concept and in increased use of the lake for leisure and residential purposes. In 2008, the IBA produced a master plan detailing various possible ideas for tourism and for homes near to and on the water. In 2009, based on this master plan, the city of Vetschau started compiling a development plan that would include future infrastructure for the lake. There is also interest in developing other sites on the banks of the Lake Gräbendorf, and even some specific plans. For instance, local anglers and sailors want to build a clubhouse on the south bank of the lake.

Description master plan (206.8 KB)

Master plan (4.7 MB)

Our partners

Tauch-und Freizeitcenter Gräbendorfer See
Wirtschaftsministerium Brandenburg
Ministerium für Infrastruktur und Raumordnung Brandenburg
InvestitionsBank des Landes Brandenburg
Sparkasse Oberspreewald/Lausitz
Landkreis Oberspreewald-Lausitz
Stadt Vetschau
Ortsteil Laasow
Lausitzer und Mitteldeutsche Bergbau-Verwaltungsgesellschaft (LMBV)
Kuhn- und Uhlich GmbH, Planungsbüro und Bauträger


Go car to the diving school or by public transportation:

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