Alsterkristall (Alster Crystal) – 2007

Commissioned design for Outer Alster lake, Hamburg
With Wilk-Salinas Architects


The Alster Crystal is a platform for excursions and bathing, located in the middle of the Alster lake.

The crystal shape stands for clean Alster. Geometrical crystals with hexagonal molecules are only formed by clean water. The design refers to the tradition of historical Alster bathing stations in the 18th and 19th centuries. While on the Inner Alster there was already a floating swimming pool, or ‘bathing ship’, in the late 18th century, on the Outer Alster, between the mid-19th century and the 1930s, there were three swimming pools built on piles: ‘Alsterlust’ beside Lombardbrücke bridge; Hohenfelde bathing station at Schwanenwik; and Lony Swimming Baths south of today’s Krugkoppelbrücke bridge, accessible only by boat. On the Inner Alster, there was also a tradition of creating temporary islands for special festive occasions.

The Alster Crystal is intended to be autonomous: the swimming pool is filled with Alster water and cleaned in a closed circuit via a regeneration pond. As in the historical baths, this allows people to bath in the water of the lake, which is given the character of clear mountain water by the natural cleaning process. The roof of the pavilion is covered with photovoltaic cells, allowing the Alster Crystal to generate its own electricity.

The design takes a careful approach to the Alster setting. Existing routes are not disturbed and views of the lake from the shoreline are not obscured. The location’s fashionable character is reflected and an invitation is extended to the audience: sailors and other boat users can tie up on the platform, and a ferry brings guests across from the Alster shore.