How might we re-imagine the future relationship to our local water bodies?

Phase 1/1: Spekulationsphase completed
The condition of Berlin’s water bodies is far from optimal and further threatened by multiple human-made impacts and the accelerating climate crisis. This raises concerns and calls for radically new approaches to rethink our future relationship with Berlin’s most vital resource and connected ecosystems among competing political, economical, environmental and social interests. Let’s envision all possible futures, and reimagine our present world together!
Challenge beendet
How might we re-imagine the future relationship to our local water bodies?
How might we re-imagine the future relationship to our local water bodies?
Dirty stinky water in Berlin 
In 2040, people know what lies beneath the soil in their local neighbourhoods, including the geological layers, rocks, and water reservoirs that are specific to that area.
Tap water, including for toilets and bathing, is now trucked in from Poland at €10/liter because Berlin has failed to reverse the trend, begun in 2017, of drawing down its water reservoirs without replenishing.
Water is a private resource.
Energy use has skyrocketed as most buildings in Berlin are now air-conditioned due to hotter microclimates and lack of street trees which once provided shade but have succumbed to drought.
Tap water is the main drink people consume, its location specific taste and qualities will be appreciated as much as the differences in bought mineral waters are appreciated today.
Berlin’s river bath finally opens but a bout of stomach infections and skin rashes amongst the visitors leads to large public discussions about Berlin’s waste water problems, finally resulting in actions to improve the situation.
People take care about what to pour down the drain in their domestic space, knowing that part of this might land in the lakes and rivers they spend their leisure time at.
With fresh water being scarce globally, products and cultural objects which interact with and / or emphasise the value of water have become more commonplace.
Droughts lead to a rationing of water in the summer, resulting in people developing new practices of rainwater collection during the heavy thunderstorms that sometimes hit the city.
Berlin’s microclimate has become much better after improving the condition of the city´s water bodies.
I wish that people of all ages understood the links between climate change, rainfall, groundwater levels and their own consumption habits.
Ground water is getting less and less and nobody realizes it early enough. 
It is possible to swim in all water areas in Berlin. 
There will be built a new, big and efficient infrastructure for collecting and distributing rain water.
The citizens of Berlin have realised how much the condition of the city’s water bodies influences their quality of life.
Small, decentralized filtering plants are abundant and allow us to directly use our own  grey water.
Since wastewater treatment plants can't handle and filter the mix from microplastic, medical substances, hormones and other "dirt" anymore, it will become more and more common to start recycling at home, using filter systems, recycle stations etc. 
The whole system of lakes, canals and rivers in and around Berlin is part of the public consciusness.
I wish the rivers and canals are clean enough to swim in. 
Solutions will have been found to make water travel much less polluting.
I wish the spree was filtered and that we could swim in the middle of the city
Perhaps well-water has been made publicly available (along with real-time metrics of safety) as a social experiment. It helps people realize how water can be unique to a place.
On a hot summerschool, we can jump into the Kanal to refresh and be surrounded by water.
Berlin is now enjoying hot summers tempered by many refreshing water and green areas, makes use of its waters for eco-mobility (passengers and goods), collects rainwater etc. It has become water city!
Rivers in Berlin have become bodies of water to swim, bath and wash in for everyone without any thought of contamination.
All citizen of berlin assume responsibility and keep their waters and river banks free from trash.
The importance of infrastructure for water collecting, cleaning and sharing will increase. 
Proper water treatment, so we pollute less the waters 
It is getting drier.
I wish everybody is capable to generate their own sources of drinking water without harming the Planet.
Due to climate crisis, everybody will have their own self hydration accessory to survive.
Challenge Details

City of Rivers and Canals

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 is concerning and the relationship of Berliner’s to the region's water bodies remains somewhat ambivalent.

Our groundwater, rivers and lakes have multiple functions. They provide drinking water, feed animals and ecosystems, produce energy, create pathways for ships and refresh us in our recreation time.
 However, the impact we have on Berlin’s water bodies is becoming more serious as the population grows and the use of freshwater increases. Wastewater from sewage treatment plants and pollutants from the air and agriculture are entering the groundwater, rivers and lakes. In addition, changing water temperatures have resulted in decreasing oxygen levels. A frightening fish, mussel and crayfish mortality, the degradation of biodiversity and the contamination of freshwater are just some of the consequences. What prevents us from acting upon this? Are we lacking collective imaginaries that would help us believe that different is possible?

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Highlighted Submissions
Am kontroversesten
Rivers in Berlin have become bodies of water to swim, bath and wash in for everyone without any thought of contamination.
Controversiality: EN 30.9
Controversiality: DE 30.9
Desirability: EN 61
Desirability: DE 61
Probability: EN 59.9
Probability: DE 59.9
Am wenigsten kontrovers
It is getting drier.
Controversiality: EN 11.2
Controversiality: DE 11.2
Desirability: EN 19.8
Desirability: DE 19.8
Probability: EN 92.8
Probability: DE 92.8
Am meisten wünschenswert
The citizens of Berlin have realised how much the condition of the city’s water bodies influences their quality of life.
Controversiality: EN 13.7
Controversiality: DE 13.7
Desirability: EN 88.7
Desirability: DE 88.7
Probability: EN 63.9
Probability: DE 63.9
Am wahrscheinlichsten
It is getting drier.
Controversiality: EN 11.2
Controversiality: DE 11.2
Desirability: EN 19.8
Desirability: DE 19.8
Probability: EN 92.8
Probability: DE 92.8
Eigene Idee einreichen →
Artist Response

Bodies of Water

A project by Johanna Schmeer and Studio Lapatsch|Unger.
Bodies of Water directly relate to our human bodies. Our bodies contain 60% water and it is through drinking water and ingesting food grown with this water, that we ingest and swallow the world around us – and with it its nutrients, microorganisms, and contaminants.
 How can we create more awareness around water and its regional origins? How can we make the differences and complexities in water qualities and contents become accessible in a multisensory way?

As part of the S+T+ARTS Residencies, the artists Johanna Schmeer and Studio Lapatsch|Unger will create an experience-based participatory artwork, archiving water samples and data from Berlin-Brandenburg’s water bodies and combining these into a multisensory installation. Through a process of participatory workshops, they will explore ways to translate scientific knowledge and data of the local water ecologies into a multi-sensually perceptible experience for the public. The project aims to provide access to the Berlin-Brandenburg’s water bodies – through listening, tasting, sensing and perceiving.

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Challenge Background

S+T+ARTS Residency
Flow of Berlin

Since June 2021, as part of the European Commission’s S+T+ARTS initiative, 12 new Regional S+T+ARTS Centers have been creating a space for artists, scientists, and technologists to work together on a common mission: Repairing the present. The S+T+ARTS initiative is a program funded by the European Commission aiming to bring artistic perspectives into the innovation process to address current challenges in today’s society.

Repairing the Present as part of the S+T+ARTS Residencies encourages a critique of the present, the exploration beyond its current limitations, and the re-imagination of other possible futures. To that end, the program fosters the development of methodologies and frameworks for long-term cross-disciplinary collaborations that can lead to products, tools and processes with a positive impact on society at large.

In October and November 2021, 12 Regional S+T+ARTS Centers called international artists working at the intersection between science, technology and the arts to apply for a 6-month residency. The residencies respond to local sustainability challenges that have been defined by invited Local Experts Groups during workshops that took place in July-September 2021. The Regional S+T+ARTS Center STATE Studio in collaboration with BMW Foundation has announced Johanna Schmeer and Studio Lapatsch|Unger as the winner of the S+T+ARTS Residency Flow of Berlin. During the residency, the artists engage with the Local Expert Group, the general public as well as other relevant stakeholders in a strongly collaborative process. This crowdsourcing campaign on Futures Canvas forms part of this process.

Your contribution matters and will be part of a larger endeavour: it will be integrated into the S+T+ARTS project report that will be shared and discussed with the EU Commission as well as local stakeholders. This is an opportunity to think along with artists and local experts involved in the challenge.

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Challenge Hosts

The challenge is co-commissioned by STATE with the support of BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt within the framework of Repairing The Present. Repairing The Present is co-funded by the S+T+ARTS initiative of the European Union.


Die S+T+ARTS-Initiative ist ein von der Europäischen Kommission finanziertes Programm, das darauf abzielt, künstlerische Perspektiven in den Innovationsprozess einzubringen, um aktuelle Herausforderungen der heutigen Gesellschaft anzugehen.

S+T+ARTS Residencies

Since its launch five years ago, the S+T+ARTS initiative has hosted over 125 residencies across its different projects.
Repairing the Present will be adding 21 thematic residencies to the portfolio. Each of the residencies points to an EU Green Deal or a New European Bauhaus goal and reflects pan-European or global issues that require solutions tailored to specific regions.


STATE is a Berlin-based art-science initiative with the mission to create opportunities for cross-sectoral encounters and interdisciplinary creativity. Through its exhibitions and open program, it offers curated deep-dives into current trends in science, society and innovation and creates a platform for collaboration between artists, scientists and curious others.

BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt

The BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt promotes responsible leadership and inspires leaders worldwide to work towards a peaceful, just and sustainable future. Through its activities, the Foundation aims to advance the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda. Guided by the key concepts of governance, innovation, and cross-sector partnerships, the BMW Foundation supports and initiates forward-looking solutions at the local and global levels.

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