To break with the traditional division between the tasks of the engineer, artist and architect has helped to construct an urban oasis that makes real a fantasy.
In the summer of 2002, thirty two engineers, artists and architects they were invited to Berlin to form groups that were taking part in a contest to create, in the river Spree, a point of connection between both parts of the city. The project “Spreebruecke”, bridge of the river Spree, of the architects tinerfeños AMP and the Berlin artist Susanne Lorenz gained the first prize with the reutilization of a former sunked barge: they filled it with polished water and did of her a public swimming pool that floats in the river. A project that interprets the topic of the bridge as a platform of communication.
Artistic projects in the City.
The contest started on the initiative deprived of Artistic Project in the City, an association founded to promote the dialog between the citizens, organizing a cultural biennial event with projects you will interdiscipline in Berlin.
A counselors’ committee selected the participants for his works realized in collaboration with other areas of the knowledge, since the offers of design should reflect a joint project of the different professionals. One was encouraging this way an amalgam of ideas between the mind of the engineer, of the artist and of the architect to change the perspective of the urban current planning. In too many occasions the “art” it is added a posteriori.
The process of organizing the groups consisted of inviting all the participants to take part for two days in a colloquium in the Town hall of Berlin. In this time all of them presented his works. They were organized also travel along the Spree to familiarize by ship with the place and, finally, there was requested them that they were forming equipments and were selecting a place to locate his action that must be understood between the East of the downtown and the South-east, containing the districts Mitte, Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg and Treptow-Koepenick. The association Artistic Project in the City selected this section of the river to show the importance of the Spree as connection between the downtown and the suburbs.
An alive bridge.
The group formed by the architects Philip Artengo, Fernando Martín Menis and Jose Rodríguez Pastrana (AMP), in collaboration with the artist Susanne Lorenz, chose a place of the river in a neighborhood of Treptow’s district that was regenerated. It is characterized by his constructions of dark bricks of a former garage of buses that the company SAND had transformed instead of leisure close to the river. It was in addition a place near to the bridge Elsen with historical links to the Berlin culture of the bath. In the 19th century, the citizens were wallowing in the river, in zones separated from bath or in private full swimming pools with cold water, which they were known as Badeschiff or “bath ships”. Though in 1906 eleven areas of bath had managed to exist for men and seven for women, little before the First World war, the pollution turned the Spree in not suitablly for the bath; his Badeschiff were closed and the Berliners had to move to the lakes of the region or to the municipal swimming pools.
Today, immediately after an ambitious project to clean the river, tons of clean sand have been transported to his banks from the coast of the Baltic Sea to create artificial beaches. These shores of the river have become immediately popular and in them crowded places of leisure have been opened.
Swimming in the river.
With the offer of a “bath ship” contemporary, the winning equipment wanted to recover the practice of the baths and to incorporate this activity into the bars of the beaches. New “Bridge Spree” would be, actually, a place that connects with the past, with his lost tradition, and with the present, as place of communication. The idea fascinated the juror of the contest and convinced to the ARENA company, that he has constructed it and it will keep it anchored opposite to his facilities during the next five years. During this time this zone of Berlin will be conceived as a place of bars where also it will be possible be going to swim, a quality that will serve to cover great part of the cost of the construction.
On having come closer to the river, in the sand a way is opened towards two big platforms of wood. These connect with the old barge of post turned into “bath ship”. The barge, which size is ideal for swimming for 32 measure ‘5 meters of length for 8’ 2 of width, and little more than two meters of depth, filled with 400.000 liters of water lightly chlorinated that is kept to 24°C. The engineer of the group, Juan Jose Gallardo, calculated the load it liquidates and the own weight of the barge in order that, totally full, it was remaining high 70 centimeters on the surface of the river. The idea was to make coincide the level of the water with that of the edge of the swimming pool in such a way that the bathers were feeling completely immersed in the riverbed of the river. For it, and by means of you her curl of frets, it was added to the air chamber contained in the double framework of these crafts of load, a base of expanded polystyrene that should decrease the weight of the load and should obtain the wished displacement.
The collaboration of the different professionals has transformed a tradition lost in a poetical experience. With the mobile bath in a barge that can be transported easily and anchored in another location, the bathers have gained a completely new perspective of his city.
The limits between the East Berlin and the West were not drawn only by the wall that now belongs to the history. The river Spree was accentuating this separation since all his bridges in the city – with the exception of the Schilling and of the Weidendammerbruecke – were dinamitados at the end of the Second World war. It is more, the presence of the Spree managed to be almost imperceptible in the part East of the city.
From the German unification, the government has realized formidable investments in the restoration and in the construction of new bridges. Nevertheless, and in spite of the fact that the river Spree crosses the historical center of the city or to the numerous bridges now existing, Berlin has never granted the importance that cities like Paris or London have attributed to his bridges.
With the aim to establish, literally, bridges with his opposite old women, the project “Connections Constructed 2002” understood the building of new bridges as a problem to interdiscipline. The title “Con-Con” reports the communicative interactions that derive from the union of two poles. He proposed as a platform of discussion on the significancia and function of the bridges, so much in his structural as sociological sense, with the principal aim to realize diverse actions in the bridges and the river Spree that will promote and promote the social relations and cultural river – city.
The success of the “bath ship” Spree is clear between the Berliners. As he has written to us Heike Catherina Müller, Con-Con’s police station:
“There have transformed the margins of the river Spree of sustainable form. Many cities call us now because they would like to open again his rivers the public”.
To support the use of the “bath ship” during the winter season, there has been created a temporary cover, which was mounted by the first time in the autumn of 2005. This second part of the project Berlin Wilk-Salinas belongs to the study of architecture. Shaped by Gilbert Wilk and Ana Salinas,, this equal young woman was employed with AMP at the project of swimming pool and, since then, she has been flirted to the execution of the works, taken charge of the intense negotiation with the municipal regulations, as well as of the project and the construction – literally speaking – of the closing of the swimming pool in the winters months.
The cover consists of three light bodies in the shape of pipe, orientated longitudinally to the swimming pool and to the platforms of wood. The interior of every pipe this one determined by his functions: a Lounge, in the first platform, Sauna’s landscape, in the second one, and the swimming pool.
The construction consists of arches of wood with form of ellipse covered by two families of fabrics. The space between the double cap of fabric gets conceited with air to low pressure. Of this form there is obtained a good isolation and an own minimal weight. On having used translucent fabric, and in certain points be transparent, an intense relation is kept with the environment, the closings are eliminated. There is obtained an ethereal and opened construction.
For the construction materials have been in use standard. The details of the connections between the elements are very simple, to obtain a rapid and manual assembly, without need of derricks. During the summer season this cover dismounts up to his use in the next winter, or re-is in use as a pavilion of exhibitions in the area of the Arena.
The Winterbadeschiff prolongs the offer of the summer swimming pool to the rest of the year. To be able to bath in the river in front of an urban scene in the winter months: to use the sauna and to bath with the sight to the frozen river.
Halldóra Arnardóttir + Javier Sánchez Merina
PhD in history of the art. PhD architect
Murcia. january 2017
Javier Sánchez Merina es Profesor Titular en la Universidad de Alicante. Anteriormente enseñó en Kingston University London y Carleton University en Ottawa. Sus clases, textos y obra construida buscan establecer relaciones entre la docencia, la investigación y la profesión. En la actualidad participa en el Proyecto de Investigación Europeo sobre Arquitectura Terapéutica.
Halldóra Arnardóttir. Doctora, (The Bartlett, UC London 1999 – homologación UMU 2007), Colaboradora con el Observatorio de Diseño y Arquitectura de Murcia (2008-10), acreditación de la ANECA como Ayudante Doctor (2012) y en la actualidad Coordinadora de Arte y Cultura como Terapia (HUVA) en colaboración con UMU, Profesora Ayudante Doctor (UCAM) y Azrieli Visiting Critic en Carleton University (Ottawa 2012).