Bodies of Water

Berlin, the city of rivers and canals, forms together with the surrounding state of Brandenburg Europe’s largest network of inland waterways. But the condition of the water bodies is concerning and the relationship of Berliner’s to the region’s water bodies remains somewhat ambivalent.

Bodies of Water is a geohydrological investigation into Berlin’s regional groundwater systems, which provides almost 100% of the city’s drinking water. Reflecting on the flow of water that circulates in and out of human bodies, the project explores the complexities that lie beneath the city, providing artifacts that allow for a new perspective onto the impact of geology on human life.

This project is realized by Johanna Schmeer & Studio Lapatsch|Unger and co-commissioned by STATE with the support of the RISE Cities Program of the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt and the S+T+ARTS program of the European Union and supported by Prof. Dr. Irina Engelhardt from the hydrogeology department of the Technical University of Berlin.

Part of the project was a workshop at Tegeler See in northwest Berlin. The lake is considered as one of the inner-city waters with the greatest depth of visibility in Berlin. As an extension of the research, the workshop aimed to explore the local water body with different tools in a multi-sensory way and to exchange experiences.

The first part of the project interprets the data from 52 two-dimensional geological sections of the city into a three-dimensional model and translates it into a collection of glass vessels, conveying the three-dimensional shapes of Berlin’s groundwater reservoirs.

The second part gives an insight into the aquifers beneath the earth’s surface, focusing on the water-bearing permeable rock that filters particles and bacteria, and provides natural purification of groundwater. The project gathers specific rocks from the geological layers beneath the city and uses it to transform the mineral quality of other locations’ waters into that of Berlin’s, allowing one to access local water specificities through ingestion, sensing and tasting, and temporarily transpose into the local aquatic environment.