Lukas Born


Strelitzer Straße 60; 10115 Berlin

Berlin, Germany
European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage / Europa Nostra Award 2010 - Education, Training and Awareness-Raising, Grand Prix

Conservation through Vocational Training

History of the Public Bathhouse "Baerwaldbad" in Berlin-Kreuzberg

At the end of the 19th century, in the rapidly expanding industrial town of Berlin, there was a desperate need for public bathing facilities due to severe overcrowding. So the town architect Ludwig Hoffmann was commissioned to build a public bath house with bath and shower facilities in the densely populated working-class borough of Berlin-Kreuzberg.
The municipal bath house in Kreuzberg (known as the Baerwaldbad) was built over the years 1898 - 1901, an extension between 1913 and 1917. This extension was completely destroyed during the WW II but rebuilt in the 1950s. In the following years the bath house rejoiced in a high number of visitors.
After 100 years of use it was shut down by the government in 2002 due to rising costs and falling profitability. The members of the Kreuzberg Swimming Association did not accept this and founded the Association for Diving, Swimming and Popular Sports (TSB e.V.). The association runs the swimming pool as a leaseholder, with the help of many volunteers.
The bath is open daily. Every year the pool receives around 150.000 visitors, 70.000 of which are school pupils and around 60.000 members of different swimming clubs. Courses take place that are particularly suitable for Muslim women.

The Idea

After the major institutional changes in 2002 new ways of renovation and conservation had to be found. The JobCenter, responsible to find jobs and vocational training for the unemployed in Berlin, was searching for a project, where building activities and integration of disadvantaged young people could be combined. Thus "Project Baerwaldbad" was created in 2007 to make the suitable restoration of the listed monument possible in the framework of vocational training.


The project has various objectives:
•    Restoration of parts of the bath, which are feasible in the context of training in line with monumental protection guidelines,
•    Training and career orientation for disadvantaged young people from this borough helping them to achieve integration in to the job market
•    Assurance of further swimming establishments for schools, clubs and the people living in the borough
•    Development of intercultural skills through the joint work and training of participants from different cultural backgrounds

The Results

With the idea to let socially disadvantaged young adults participate in the renovation of the bath the following was between 2007 and 2011 achieved:

•    Installation of a training construction site as reuse of a decayed part of the building
•    Participation of more than 100 young people in various vocational and work programmes
•    Renovation of historic stair houses, changing cubicles and doors
•    Woodcarving of 10 wooden sculptures in the main hall
•    Reconstruction of former shower cubicles into a gym
•    Creation of an exhibition concerning the history of the public baths and the renovation
•    educational trip to Istanbul and construction internships in Italy
•    Implementation of diversity trainings

Professional and Social Philosophy Behind

Responsible institution for the implementation of the project is Zukunftsbau GmbH, a non-profit, youth support and recognised training company. Zukunftsbau was established in 1986 committed to the holistic and vocational training of disadvantaged young people and the long-term unemployed with the aim of integration into the job market. Zukunftsbau offers counselling services, vocational training, vocational guidance and modular qualification programmes with integrated social welfare support..

One Idea Supported by Many Institutions

But beside of the main partners TSB and Zukunftsbau GmbH the Baerwaldbad project is only made possible by the cooperation of more partners.
•    L.I.S.T. GmbH - Solutions for the City, Company for Urban Development, as one of Zukunftsbau''s partners, recruits for the project and advises it on construction and financial matters,
•    The Friedrichshain-Kreuzberg District Authority significantly supported the project in 2007/08 by providing the means for purchasing materials and tools,
•    The "State Monument Preservation Authority Berlin" (Landesdenkmalamt) advises the partners concerning conservation guidelines.
•    Apprentices from Eckener Schule Flensburg (Northern Germany) have re-carved 10 wooden sculptures in the main swimming pool hall. They were missing after the war until 2010.

Above all many others have participated or still do so in order to keep the project running, in particular foundations, private companies or private persons.

The project in the framework of community development

The project is one, in addition to other projects in Berlin and Germany, in which training and career orientation for young adults is linked with the preservation of monuments. However what is different is the participation of disadvantaged young people (often those with a migrant background and distanced from education) from a focus area for urban rehabilitation. In order for these young people to participate, they need to be aware of the significance of the architectural and cultural heritage of this building for Berlin. In this respect the project is not just about construction but also inc1udes cultural as well as social training for the participants. For such young people, the monumental restoration work allows them to develop their identity.

Lesson learnt

The historical restoration has been advanced almost exclusively by dedication of the partners. The swimming association has despite having limited revenue provided small amounts again and again for the restoration of the building and it has almost always voluntarily maintained the swimming establishment. In contrast to other swimming pools and up to now the conservation of "Baerwaldbad" gets comparably little support by the state.
Although the model of "Project Baerwaldbad" is easy to understand and creates a win-win situation for all stakeholders it is not easily transferable to others in Germany or Europe. The funding is a rather sophisticated mix of different sources which never lasts more than a very limited period of time. One of the other main obstac1es to overcome is always again the resistance of the Chamber of Crafts. But also the stakeholder mix is not very easily to copy and rather unique in Germany. Nevertheless the project raised interest in Germany and in two European exchange programmes for its curricula, funding and for its general project design.
With the project comes the assurance that good quality work is feasible with such people and that through the construction process, awareness for cultural heritage will be achieved. Small steps have been achieved; bigger ones can and should follow in cooperation with all partners.

An Award-Winning Project

On the 10th June 2010 in Istanbul, the Baerwaldbad Project received the European Union Prize for Cultural Heritage/ Europa Nostra Award in the category "Education, Training and Awareness-Raising" (Grand Prix). At the prize giving it was said:
"The prize awarded to this project recognises the exceptional achievement of a rich social project which synchronised a socially vulnerable population with an architectural project of great worth. By revealing forgotten cultural influences and by training young people in the techniques of restoration, this project allowed a strong sense of reclaiming cultural elements forgotten by previous generations, and thus shows a way to safeguard historical inheritance in harmony with the social evolution which must be engaged in by modern European cities. It also afforded the participants an enriching opportunity to integrate both socially and professionally."


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