Alsterschuten (Alster barges) – 2007

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

View from shore / Schwanenwik

Ansicht von oben / von der Aussenalster

The design consists of a pier with five adjacent bathing barges plus a technical and service unit. Positioned in front of the pier on the open water side, the barges form a line of water of varying depths: each individual barge features both a swimming area and a bench 50 cm under the surface. At the connecting ends of the barges, submerged partitions the same height as the benches but spanning the full width of the barge (water decks) enable users to move from one to the next.
In the tradition of historical bathing ships with their separate bathing cabins, the barges can be used (or hired) as separate swimming and leisure pools, but in visual and material terms they form a single unit: visitors can not only communicate with and visit one another from barge to barge, they can also swim a 100-metre stretch across all five pools. The platform-like underwater connecting zones can easily be passed if swimming, but they also invite bathers to use them as a chill-out zone with breathtaking views of the lake.
The bathing station floats 25 metres out into the lake, parallel to the Schwanenwiker Ufer shore, and lies slightly lower than the embankment. As a result, lines of sight from the shore out over the lake are not obstructed, but enhanced. The design quotes the position of the historical Hohenfelde bathing station, which also ran parallel to the lakeside.
The main components of the design – ship and pier – refer to the timeless image of a landing jetty. The technical and service unit is built on an existing concrete pier and brings together all functional requirements. Access to the pier is also via this building, allowing easy regulation.
The pier and the service building are painted white, matching the character and dominant colour of the buildings around the lake. The green/blue of the pools and the black of the barges complement this in a simple but contrasting design.
The design combines historical references with the requirements of the here and now: existing routes and lines of sight are respected, and the location is given a new attraction thanks to the expressive but natural formal idiom. With its row of water balconies, the facility offers a generously proportioned lounge-like bathing atmosphere with sensational views of Hamburg’s inner city.