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River baths worldwide

Flussbad Berlin is of course not the only river bath worldwide. And it is not even the first in the world. There are many pioneers and at least as many contemporary companions.

The tradition of river bathing is a very old one, especially in Switzerland. Whether in the Rhine, Limmat or Aare, the water quality is usually so good that you can just jump into these rivers. Over the past two decades, many cities around the world have bethought of their bodies of water, which are being increasingly reconquered by the citizens.

You will find a small collection of urban river baths around the world here which will grow bit by bit. These reference projects are located on rivers, streams, former rivers and sea harbours and have been upgraded with more or less infrastructure.

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Siegen - Siegtreppen

Siegen - Siegtreppen

For more than 30 years, the "Siegplatte" (a large parking lot) concealed the central area of the river in the city centre of Siegen and was therefore emblematic of the car-friendly city of post-war modernism. With the renaturation of the river, the 180 meter long new "Siegtreppen", with the redesign of other squares, promenades and bridges in the immediate vicinity of the River Sieg, the city gets back its centre close to the river. The spacious open spaces combine the versatile demands of the residents for urban life and "green" recreation in direct contact with the element of water.

In the city centre of Siegen the first large parking lot, the so-called "Siegplatte" was built in 1968/69. The 260 meter long overbuilding of the Sieg, which remained visible only through a gap, had to be urgently renovated after thirty years. However, discussions had already started on a demolition of the platform since 1991, but they were only implemented as part of the "Regionale 2013" structural development programme in South Westphalia - fundings that would not have been available for a refurbishment.

The platform should give way to a long flight of steps with seating and steps leading towards the renaturalised riverbed. Barrier-free access to the lower levels via a ramp was also included in the planning draft. Some seating platforms were made of water-resistant Douglasia trunks, in order to be able to withstand any flooding of the River Sieg, where the amount of water carried by the river can rise up to ten times of the normal amount. Due to an expected strong use by residents and guests of the city a strong greening was excluded from the draft. Furthermore, new bridges were built and the adjacent pedestrian zones were repaved and equipped with tree beds, benches and playground equipment.

In order to convince the critics and to facilitate the long construction period for the citizens and retailers, the urban redevelopment was offensively communicated. School classes painted the vacated “Siegplatte” before its demolition and turned it into an oversized piece of art. A “demolition festival” initiated the construction work in 2012. An office on site and a website informed about the construction progress. The mayor, the old and the new city council building officer offered personal site tours.

Siegen's citizens now populate the new shores as the first rays of sunlight appear, which have already entered the linguistic usage as “Siegtreppen”. Now, the other courageous steps must prove that the revival of the historic Upper Town succeeds, too.

More information on the project „Siegtreppe“ can be found here.