City Visionaries Are Working to Make the Spree River a Natural Swimming Pool

Perspektive James Simon Galerie
Perspektive James Simon Galerie | © 2016 realities:united/Flussbad Berlin e.V
Megan King

The Flussbad (‘river bath’) Project has an extraordinary vision for Berlin: to use an ecological filter to direct the flow of the water entering the Spree River into a Flussbad further downstream.

There is no doubt that Berlin is a magical city. The quality of life, together with its user-centric public spaces, art, design and affordability make it an urban oasis for those living here. They say you can’t have it all, though, and Berlin’s landlocked status is a drawback. There are plenty of lakes around Berlin, but it takes time and planning to make those trips. Then there’s the Spree River that runs through the city, but its murky waters are notoriously too toxic for human use. But what if that could be changed? The Flussbad Project aims to create a swimmable river, running right through the city.

Perspektive Lustgarten

The team of architects and artists behind the project call themselves realities:united, and in 2014, they managed to gain the support of Germany’s Environmental Ministry as part of their National Urban Development Projects. They’ve also been enjoying extensive support from the public and the media. It is now estimated that in just a few years, people will be able to swim in the Spree near Museum Island in Mitte, right between the Humboldt Forum and the Bode Museum.

The proposed swimming pool and natural water filter

The Spree used to have a river pool near the Berlin City Palace. Due to increasingly poor hygiene conditions, the last dip was taken in 1925; it was then shut down and any open access to the water along the river was forbidden. Today, it is used as the discharge point for a number of different wastewater pathways. According to research undertaken by the project, if the Spree were not contaminated several times a year due to heavy rainfall causing Berlin’s sewage system to overflow, the river would be clean enough to swim in.

Swimming in the Spree

The Flussbad Project has been given many awards and grants since 2011, including the Gold Prize for the 2011 Holcim Award Europe, worth $100,000, and €2.6 million in funding from the Federal Ministry for Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Atomic Security in 2014. It was also granted a further €1.4 million of backing from the Berlin Senate Department for Urban Development and the Environment. Will residents soon be swimming in a natural pool right in the heart of the city? Watch this space.

landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.

Winter Sale Offers on Our Trips

Incredible Savings

Edit article