Last smash: Pankow Schwimmhalle

Filed 14/5/2014 |
Don’t jump in at the deep end or you’ll land on your face with a mouthful of broken glass. Someone pulled the plug on this pool and it hasn’t been fit for swimming since. Yep, the well’s run dry for this one.
Berlin is incredibly careless with its swimming pools. More are abandoned than not. Pankow Schwimmhalle is just one of many. It’s probably not even the most exciting one.
I always wanted to have a look at the Stadtbad Oderberger Straße – a wonderful building adorned by fantastic sculptures – but I never managed to get in before the construction workers did. Now they’re “sanifying” it. I fear the worst.
No one gives a damn about the Pankow Schwimmhalle though. No fear of that being “saniert” or rehabilitated. It’s not even a Schwimmhalle anymore but a Schwimmha le, according to the sign outside.
“Where’s the water?” my young sidekick asked. He was incredibly disappointed, devastated. I guess he wanted to go swimming. I certainly didn’t. It was far too cold for swimming. There was snow on the ground at the time.
You’re still not allowed smoke inside. “Rauchen verboten” is written in big unmistakable letters as soon as you walk in. How the Germans managed to smoke when they were swimming is beyond me, but I guess these are Berliners we’re talking about. Berliners like nothing more than suffocating themselves in small poorly ventilated smoke-filled rooms illuminated by candles. I guess they swam with candles too – they weren’t verboten.
It’s always 9:22 here, no matter what other clocks say. Time stopped the moment the pool ran dry. (It’s 10:18 on the other side of the same clock, but both of them have to be right twice a day.)
The Schwimmhalle or “swim hall” was built in 1971 as part of Freibad Pankow, which still operates to this day. I went there once. Never again.
The architect, Gunther Derdau, saw it as a prototype for “swim halls” all over Berlin. He must be turning in his grave if he’s dead, or merely pissed off if he’s alive.
It had a 25-meter swimming pool for the athletes, and another 12 x 8.5-meter pool where people would float with their candles and cigarettes checking out the talent passing by.
There was also a sauna where things got steamy, as if they weren’t steamy enough already among the good people of the DDR.
Well, like many endeavors in the German Democratic Republic, it came to a sorry end once commercial aspects, costs and profits were taken into account. In 1996, it was taken over by the Berliner Bäderbetrieben, who did it up and reopened it in 2001, all to no avail. It was closed the following year when income failed to meet costs.
Apparently the state-run Liegenschaftsfonds Berlin is trying to sell it, and the Pankow district would like it to be restored as a functioning swimming pool. Any takers? Anyone want to splash out on an abandoned swimming pool? You’d make a young sidekick very happy. You’d splash out so he could. Splashing in broken glass just ain’t as much fun.

Pankow Schwimmhalle, an indoor swimming pool complex with one big pool, one little, a sauna and all the changing rooms, showers and swim-related accessories you’d expect. It’s fucked now.

Wolfshagener Straße 91-93, 13187 Berlin, Germany.

How to get there
Well, there are many ways. You can get the No. 50 tram to Mendelstraße and walk from there, or get one of the U2, S8, S2 or S9 to Pankow and walk a little further from there. It ain’t far. Here’s a map to assist you.

Getting in
There’s a fence outside but it might as well not be there. There’s also some red and white murder scene tape around the place, as if someone was murdered. Maybe they were. None of them put off the young fella as he barged through. If a three-year-old can do it, so can you.

When to go
Daytime if you want to see stuff, nighttime if you want to party. I don’t know what the neighbors are like so cannot advise in advance if it’s a safe place to party. Only one way to find out. Let me know!

Difficulty rating
1/10 Very easy. A three-year-old can do it.

Who to bring
You can bring your kid but there is a fair bit of broken glass around, and parts of it are quite dangerous for little people. Maybe it’s better to bring someone you don’t care so much about. Bring your girlfriend/boyfriend instead, your “friends” if you want to have a party.

What to bring
Don’t bring your togs or bikini unless you simply want to pose around 1980s style. There ain’t no water no never no more so forget about actually swimming. Bring some beer if you want to go drinking, some food if you want to go eating, and some camera if you want to go snapping.

Drowning can be safely written off as a danger. Instead, there are just the usual: watch out for nosy neighbors and the Polizei, who may or may not be in cahoots together. Neither can resist frolicking in a good comfortable cahoot together.

Thanks, as always, to Mark Rodden for proofreading.

typical shit 4151045632795524332


Nope, nobody wants to sell the Schwimmbad. Both Pankow and the state of Berlin want to keep it as a place for swimming. But it wasn't first priority as there is a depth of 63 billion Euros. There are now discussions how to realize a new building on that spot. So if you want to party hurry up.

You did'nt like the experience of having a bath among aggressive birdbrained east-Berliners? Well :D Such neighbourhood slob have done their best to devastate the building even more after your visit... They didn't care of "Rauchen verboten!", when they burnt the wood-panelled anteroom of the Sauna in the basement. And the two-sided clock is gone. With some luck may recognize it in in an upcoming museum of GDR history...

There's such an eerie feel to this place. At sundown the graffiti takes on a very ominous mood and if you're doing drugs it can be extremely scary. Best to take a friend.

yo guys , whats about the neighbours ? could fit for a party ??

At the weekend we were on tour and were also in this pool hall. I learned to swim in this pool hall. It was very touching. I have me sitting on the edge with my classmates see as I stood there. Unfortunately, it was dark, we will go next time in the bright there to make a few pictures.

We were there some weeks ago in October and there were some kids hanging around but nothing else.
It was very easy to enter and the place is very cool. It even got more colourful (some new and quite nice grafftis are in the pool now)!
If you like to see some pictures of how it looked this autumn, check out this article

Went today,the place is totally fucked but worth a look if you are in the area.

....and here is a rather crap vid i made of the pool

I was there a few days ago. Getting in was quite easy, as the construction fence was pulled down and i could just walk into the bath, the door was wide open. it was my first visit of an abandoned place so i was quite nervous, also because i was on my own. but it was very fun. i took a few pictures and walked around to see the place. when i went to the basement it was a bit scary since it was hella dark. i had a flashlight but still was kinda scared as i have seen enough horror movies. but it was a nice experience and i'll definitely explore more abandoned places. thanks for the inspiration, i love this site.

we were there yesterday and when we approached the building we noticed that people were already in there (loud music!) we entered the area (quite easy) and stayed for a while, when suddenly the police appeared. luckily they let us go without any further questions. so beware, it's easy to get in, but not that easy without getting noticed by neighbours.

So we went there today, quite easy to get there thanks to the great directions here. There were a few others there, but not crowds. Within 10 minutes the Police arrived and asked us to leave. They were quite friendly and didnt't charge us, though.

was there this afternoon. There is a fence, but part of it was pulled down very easy to get in. And no signs "zutritt verboten"! were the only ones there...

here's a video of my visit of this place

Went to visit this place past Thursday. There is a fence set up but you can just walk right past it. You will be fully visible for people walking on the street when you enter. But we didnt see any signs saying access was Verboten so chances of being fined or getting in trouble will be very small. We ran into 3 other explorers. The swimming pool basement is also interesting to explore. Quite spooky. Don't forget to bring a flashlight if you go down there.

I have been some wek agos, still opening and still easy to get inside :)

Does this place still exist? When I googled the address a new pool came up (Sommerbad Pankow).

I was there two years ago, and I guess it's still there! Just go to Wolfshagener Straße and walk. The pool that came up on your google search is the one still in use

We visited this place last week and this is my reportage:
Was a very interesting experience.
Beside us, we met briefly two other visitors.
Did not have problems at all.
L'incertain regard.

I went there this morning with no problems but it is in a right old state. Does anyone have any photos of it as it was when it opened in 1971 and during the 80s? Any archive material on it?

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