fastcoexist.com reports: “Germans could soon recapture an idyllic part of old city life: Being able to jump in the river for a swim whenever you want.
One hundred years ago, anyone who wanted to go swimming in Berlin could jump in the local river at one of 30 bathhouses. That all changed when the city built a new sewer system that overflows into the river every time there’s heavy rain. A new project hopes to make a section of the river clean and swimmable again–creating the largest pool in the world, at almost 2,500 feet.
The project would transform a side canal that has been closed to boat traffic for the last decade. At one end, a natural filter, made of layers of gravel and pollution-eating plants, would purify the river water flowing into the pool. A bypass would send sewer water in another direction, and the top of the structure would turn into a pedestrian and bicycle bridge. The beginning of the canal would be “re-naturalized” into a refuge for urban wildlife and a new park.
“The steps necessary to convert the river arm into a swimming pool are surprisingly simple and very cost-efficient,” write architects from Realities United, the firm leading the project, who first had the idea in the 1990s. Now, as the city has changed two decades after reunification, they think the time is finally right to build it. The team will finish a feasibility study next year and is working on getting approvals from the city.
“The idea is not just about swimming, or ecology,” says Grammaire. “It’s also about how we treat public space.” ”
Urban Swimming is great fun as I discovered on a recent trip to Switzerland: