On a small strip of land between the Emscher River and the Rhine Herne Canal in Germany sits a rest stop whose colorful appearance belies its radical purpose. The structure’s artful design consists of pipes leading from two toilets and the Emscher (the most polluted river in Germany) that converge at a small community garden and drinking fountain. The garden is, in fact, a man-made wetland that collects, treats, and cleans the effluence from the toilets and river—making it drinkable.
The 2010 project, known as Between the Waters, was one of the earliest projects of Rotterdam-based Ooze Architecture and its two founders Eva Pfannes and Sylvain Hartenberg. Ooze is focused on one very specific goal: finding solutions to the world’s clean water crisis through observing, imitating, and socially normalizing naturally-occurring water purification processes. “The solutions are already there, they’ve always been there, ingrained in nature,” says Hartenberg. “We just use these ideas the environment has presented to us all along, and modify them to make systems that are efficient, low-tech, and easily maintained.”
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