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Between the Waters

Essen, Germany
1 of 5© Roman Mensing

Between the Waters: The Emscher Community Garden' is a water-supply infrastructure line between the Emscher River and the Rhine-Herne Canal. The project is a complete and sustainable water-supply system. It uses only water from the immediate area: the Emscher River, the Rhine-Herne Canal, rainwater and waste water. By putting the treatment process on display, it shows it is possible to reclaim and restore the natural habitat by using low-tech processes to construct a high-tech system. The main elements of the water supply and treatment installation are two toilets located above the Emscher River (the most polluted river in Germany), a pump that draws water from the river into a septic tank, a constructed wetland, a rainwater-harvesting roof, water storage bags, and a fountain located above the Rhine-Herne Canal that offers visitors water of drinkable quality. In addition, the system provides water for irrigating the Community Garden.

'Between the Waters' had a powerful place making impact on the area where it was situated. Passing cyclists and walkers would stop to spend time in the blooming community garden, use the toilet, or drink from the water filter. What was previously an abandoned no-mans land became a destination and place to gather and reflect on the regenerative processes of nature. Beer was brewed from the purified water, offering visitors the chance to 'drink in' their surroundings. A harvest party was also held, with music and food cooked up with the produce from the community garden.