Germany’s virtual boomtown

A white stag and the economic development agency put Cottbus in a virtual pole position.

It’s really fascinating! Not only will around four billion euros flow into Cottbus‘ future projects in the coming years, while Chancellor Scholz came to the city for the third time – this time to break ground on Europe’s most modern railroad plant – but Cottbus is now also in an unexpected pole position as Germany’s first virtually walkable city.

The vision of the 3D film pioneer Walter Schönenbröcher, who has meanwhile been showered with international awards, opened the ears and doors of the Cottbus Economic Development Corporation EGC at just the right time. In the midst of the pandemic, in which contactlessness took away the decisive live experience of location and commercial space marketing, he placed his idea for a city tour in virtual space. With his company WHITESTAG – by the way, a semantic homage to the illustrious Prince Pückler, who once made a name for himself with a wild carriage ride complete with harnessed white stags – he had already shot various 3D films in Cottbus. With the support of EGC, he was able to take the project to a whole new level and present the city, both with its hard location factors and its enormous quality of life, as an authentic live experience. The virtual Cottbus has now been opened in spring.

The variety of 360° panoramas is already impressive. For Doreen Mohaupt, who as head city planner is currently conjuring up entire city districts anew in initial visualizations from the Cottbus ground, the virtual world opens up undreamed-of possibilities. Particularly in the case of the Lausitz Science Park, which the city is developing on an initial area of 180 hectares and a later total area of 420 hectares, virtuality can provide a decisive key to success. After all, there is room here for around 200 companies – and if they are interested, they can now visit the research campus of the future live at any time and from anywhere in the world, together with the team led by commercial space manager Marion Ernst. This opens up the vision, the potential of the site, and its integration into the city, and if companies or investors are enthusiastic, they can immediately take a virtual walk along Cottbus’s sights, the livable old town, or the many cultural and leisure highlights.

Virtual Cottbus is now growing steadily. The first filming locations were, for example, the main train station as the site of Europe’s most modern railroad plant, industrial parks, founders and established companies at authentic locations, the Gebäudewirtschaft Cottbus (GWC), the Brandenburg Technical University Cottbus-Senftenberg (BTU), the Carl-Thiem-Klinikum with the future university medical center and the Cottbus public utility company, as well as the emerging Cottbus Baltic Sea. In the process, each virtual station contains personal statements from local companies and start-ups that describe the advantages of the city of Cottbus from their perspective with a high degree of credibility. Other partners have added their films: The BTU shows its dynamically growing campus, the city marketing the soft location factors – and all films can be accessed without a click only with „by eye focus“. In the meantime, there are already 90 minutes of film that transfer Cottbus with all its facets into virtual reality. Walter Schönenbröcher already sees Cottbus as a pulsating city in the metaverse, while Doreen Mohaupt is looking forward to bringing her future city to life – and Marion Ernst has already given the first investors a virtual surprise. And who knows, maybe Chancellor Scholz’s digital twin will soon move into the city, where he is increasingly becoming a regular anyway.

Continental Film Festival Award