Gold Award Europe - Holcim Awards 2011
The Flussbad project is located in the very center of Berlin.
The practical scope of the project is to transform with limited means an unused river arm into a natural 745m “swimming pool” and to provide water of according quality by treating river water in a natural reed bed filter. Interventions are restricted to the creation of the necessary provisions to make the river accessible and to ensure the appropriate quality of the river water. The first aspect is dealt with by converting parts of the Lustgarten quay wall into a generous stair providing access to the swimming pool and offering a place to sit, hang out and watch. Functional locker- and changing rooms etc. are integrated unobtrusively into the terrain. A continuous gangplank lines the entire stretch of the river section for safety. The pool will be fed and constantly perfused by river water purified in a succession of reed bed filters and a sand bed filters located in the upper section of the river arm. A barrage at the lower end prevents the backflow of unfiltered water into the swimming pool. The continuous underwater stormwater pipe will contain and channel off any overflow from six emergency outlets of the city’s sewage system. (“Planet”)
After 120 years of “unemployment”, the project reactivates a currently under-valued urban resource. (“Prosperity”) Flussbad will add to the sparse provision of sports and recreation spaces for the central districts of Berlin caused by an increase of population (up to 75%) and a parallel loss of vacant spaces since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. In addition, this project will both supply a vital impulse to the historic center and will return to the contemporary population ie. some “authentic life” to Berlin’s museum island. It will diminish the mental and practical division between “everyday” Berlin and the official ie. touristic/governmental
Beyond its practical implications, the project is highly symbolic. Not so much because it stands in contrast to the past 20 years of urban development policy in Berlin – but as a most fundamental challenge by creating a new interpretation of the river’s potential. The conversion of the city’s most central river section into a resource for recreation and for public urban life radically questions the “ownership” of the river and its status quo solely as a means of transportation and effluent disposal. The project signals the chances (and the need) for an open-minded and radical reassessment of the river being one of the important natural resources of
Creating the possibility to swim in the river will raise the appetite for more (“Progress”) and an awareness of the body of water and its ecosystem. This will promote much needed change through Flussbad, Berlin, Germany.
The Flussbad project is located in the center of Berlin and transforms an unused arm of the River Spree into a natural 745m “swimming pool”. The facility is the equivalent of seventeen Olympic swimming pools with an average width of 28.8m, water depth around 2.2m, and features a 780m-long reed bed filtration system. The renewal concept for the 3.9ha site is as invigorating and hypothetical as it is realistic and simple in design. Parts of the Lustgarten quay wall are converted into generous stairs providing access to the swimming pool, with functional lockers and change rooms integrated unobtrusively into the terrain. Water entering the upper section of the river arm is purified through a 1.8ha reed bed natural reserve with sub-surface sand bed filters. A barrage at the lower end of the system prevents the backflow of unfiltered water from the main body of the river, and overflow outlets for city’s mixed sewage network are channeled beneath the system. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989, the precinct has experienced a 75% increase in resident population and parallel loss of vacant space. The Flussbad right in the heart of Berlin’s historic city center on an unused river arm provides a public urban recreation space for both, residents and tourists adjacent to the UNESCO World Heritage site, Museuminsel (Museum Island).
The jury commended this project due to its direct and very strong impact on the quality of urban life in an area of Berlin which has been previously overlooked. The project questions the ownership of the river itself that is currently used exclusively for shipping and drainage purposes but not for public activities. The idea of providing a public facility is convincing, feasible and easily transferable. It is complemented with an ecological concept that supplies unpolluted water and with a simple design that adapts respectfully to the historic context of the adjacent buildings. It is an excellent example of what could be achieved within challenging inner city areas that possess a rich tradition and cultural heritage where the local public has been overlooked.
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