The Spree Bridge Bathing Ship project encompasses re-using a former industrial boat, semi-submerged and filled with treated water to be used as a public swimming pool floating in the river. Together with the adjacent leisure facilities, the project rehabilitates the surrounding landscape along the banks of the Spree river, fostering and reinforcing the river – city social and cultural relations.
The project recovers and evokes the leading qualities of the Spree for the city of Berlin and recovers the old local tradition, giving the river a central role in this outstanding landscape once more, and generating a new legacy for the city to use and enjoy.
The area of the river where this project was implemented was in a degraded state before the new social and sports facilities were located here. This intervention has recovered a landscape of the banks of the Spree that is of great importance to the history of Berlin.
The main objective of this action was to recover a stretch of the banks of the River Spree for social and sporting use, re-discovering the river-city relations. An analysis of local history recreated an old tradition of public baths in the River Spree.
There were fifteen public pools along the Spree until the end of the 19th century, four of them in the sector between Jannowitzbruecke and Elsen Bruecke. Those pools were either a delimited area in the waters of the Spree, or pools filled with clean water, called Badeschiffe (bathing ships). Growing industrial pollution from the end of the 19th century finally led to the closure of these baths before the First World War and, thus, the city lost this landscape of river-city inter-relations.
The vessel re-used for the pool is called a Schubleichter (a medium sized transport lighter that was very common on the River Spree). Recovering the ship as a swimming pool was a conceptually simple process, but highly complex to implement. The superstructure of the ship had to be re-structured and a new profile was installed as the finishing touches to waterproofing the pool. “The pool” is sank to a level at which it melts with the river giving the impression of swimming in the actual river. The ship is filled with clean water, using a pipeline installed in the bottom of the pool, while the water is drained out below the new construction. The water surface is marked by a two-colour lighting system (blue/green) on the inner sides of ship’s hull. The barge is fixed to the river floor using two flexible metal frames. This work has renewed an important landscape that is also an interface between the river and the city (Spree-Berlin), reflecting an environmental improvement of the whole area and recovering part of the history of the city.
Building these facilities in the River Spree has attracted the interest of other European cities like Venice, where AMP arquitectos has carried out a similar project in the island of Certosa.
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