Tuesday, December 06, 2011
Given our hopes of one day being able to swim the full length of the Chicago River and its appendages—and yes, that includes the portion where it flows by the world's largest water treatment plant—without suffering dysentery afterwards, we were instantly smitten by realities:united's proposal to transform part of Berlin's Spree River into a natural swimming pool.
Located right on the heart of the city, this urban lido would be the equivalent of 17 Olympic swimming pools, fed by river water flowing through a 780-meter-long reed bed filtration system. Access would be through “generous stairs.” Alternatively, you can simply jump off one of the bridges.
This project, explain the designers, “aims to diminish the mental division between ‘everyday Berlin’ and the public Berlin belonging exclusively to tourists and federal agencies. It will provide a badly needed recreational facility in this part of the city and return some ‘authentic life’ to Berlin’s museum island, one of Berlin’s most heavily-trafficked tourist destinations with over a million visitors a year. At the same time, Flussbad puts an end to the economic nonsense of a completely unused waterway—the Kupfergraben—transforming the river itself into a strong argument for the quality of living in the inner city again.”
Of course, an even more marvelous Flussbad would be to include the rest of the Spree that runs through Berlin, requiring not just more natural filtration systems but a monumental reconfiguring of the city's stormwater and wastewater infrastructure. Ships may still pass through but on restricted lanes. The rest of the river will be turned over to frolic and merriment.
Meanwhile, check out a similar initiative to make the Spree River more swimmable, the SPREE2011 project.