REL22_Reinventing Energy Landscapes


IDEA League Summer School

Hambach © Goergens

REL22 is a summer school program launched by the Institute of Landscape Architecture of RWTH Aachen University together with the Master’s Programme in "Landscape Architecture and Landscape Heritage" of Politecnico di Milano (Prof. Antonio Longo) and the Master’s Programmes in “Landscape Architecture” of TU Delft (Prof. Laura Cipriani). The aim is to formulate useful and stimulating visions that can inspire local stakeholders involved in the landscape transformation of the Rhenish Lignite District, in particular around the Hambach open pit mine.


The context: Rhenish District - a future green heart in the middle of Europe

The summer school will engage participants in an international, multidisciplinary setting with a specific focus on the structural change (Strukturwandel) taking place in the Rhenish District (Rheinisches Revier), the largest open-cast lignite mining area in Europe, located in the German region of North Rhine Westphalia.

Three artificial lakes are to be created here following the end of open-cast mining operations. This provides a unique opportunity to create a new, positive image for the former mining area, thus establishing a new role for it within an extended urban region. The ambition is to create a new "green heart", in the middle of one of the most industrialized and densely inhabited parts of Europe. To achieve this, it will be necessary to develop new multifunctional and productive landscapes.

The project challenges around Hambach

The design task of the summer school will focus upon the southern edge of the largest of the three active open-pit mines, Tagebau Hambach. Studies have already been carried out on how to create a renewable energy park around Hambach in the future, using both solar and wind energy and the gigantic water volume of the lake as an electricity storage facility for energy surplus. In addition to the technical and economic challenges that the construction of such facilities presents, the question of how to design the infrastructure within the landscape remains unresolved. This, above all, requires a shift in thinking from mono-functional visions of landscape to multifunctional ones. The process must forge a positive new identity for this region as a whole, which has previously been exploited only for economic purposes.

  Nicht verfügbar © RWE

The challenge that the international group of students, experts and lecturers will face during the REL22 design workshop will be to reinvent energy landscapes that combine energy exploitation, new settlements, agricultural uses and the production of ecosystem services in a “harmonious way”. Ideally, in a hundred years´ time, they should be considered by future generations as being valuable “cultural landscapes” i.e. landscapes in which it is desirable to live, to work and to spend leisure time.

The project visions developed during the summer school should take into account the ongoing process of transformation from fossil-based value chains to bio-based and circular ones, and will potentially serve an inspiration for other European regions as well.


What and When

  • 19.05.22. One-day Introductory Webinar (Online)
  • 18.08.22.-27.08.22  On-site Design Workshop (in Kerpen-Buir)


The programme is open to students of Master's level courses in Landscape Architecture, Architecture and Urban Planning of the IDEA League and ASPIRE League partner universities. PhD research students who are interested in the topics of the programme are also welcome to apply. Applications from students of non-partner universities and from other master programs will be only exceptionally accepted. A total of about 32 Students will be eligible to participate.
Pre-selection of candidates will be carried out by the beginning of April 2022 on the basis of the submission of a cv and portfolio and a letter of interest.


No registration fees are required. Expenses for on-site overnight stays and main meals as well as venue rental costs for the workshop are funded by IDEA League. Travel expenses will be be reimbursed by the respective partner universities.


Credit points may be awarded to those who complete the entire programme.
Master Students of RWTH Aachen University can have their participation recognized as a “Forschungsfeld”.

For further information, please contact your university directly.


Trailer - REL22 Reinventing Energy Landscapes