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Flussbad Berlin Project

“Flussbad Berlin” is an urban development project designed to reactivate the Spree Canal, a body of water that has been largely unused for over 100 years de-spite its location in the historical heart of the German capital. The project divides the Spree Canal into three sections, each with its own unique function, atmos-phere and use.

Natural Waterway

The Flussbad project will transform the first section of the canal – located near the Fischerinsel (Fisher Island) – into an ecological regeneration zone similar to that of an oxbow lake. The shallow-water zones along the embankment will create a much-needed living and reproduction space for flora and fauna. In fact, this part will contribute significantly to European objectives regarding the improvement of ecological conditions. By removing certain parts of the existing canal walls, this section will generate lush green areas with shallow embankments that will act as “historical windows” on Berlin’s old city walls, which remain hidden underground to this day. A new jetty at water level will also invite visitors to explore and enjoy the canal.

Natural Water Filter

The Flussbad project involves the installation of an ecological plant filter between Gertraudenbrücke and the Federal Foreign Office that will clean the Spree water running through it, which is occasionally contaminated by discharges from Berlin’s combined sewage system. The water will flow over a stretch of almost 400 metres through a one-metre-thick layer of gravel and aquatic vegetation. The microbiological cleansing that takes place in this section will make it possible to swim in the water that emerges after it passes through the filter. This continuous process will be powered by gravity alone, as the filtered water will flow by natural means into the swimming area that lies at a level that is roughly one-and-a-half metres lower.

Swimming Area

The actual swimming area of the Flussbad will comprise an 835-metre section of clean canal water that will flow past Museum Island. This stretch of water, which has been mostly unused until today, will be made accessible via stairways located, for instance, at the Humboldt Forum. This new public space will attract residents and visitors alike back to the city centre, whether it’s to meet, relax or swim in the clear water. This everyday sensory experience will give people a new perspective on the historical city, thus helping to broaden the meaning and usage of this area of Berlin-Mitte, a downtown district that has lost some of its vibrancy and become increasingly ‘representative’ in the past years. Indeed, the Flussbad will enhance the area’s cultural and social meaning and make it sustainable for the future.