Are you ready for a photo overload?
When I was a kid, a trip to the local leisure centre was the best way to spend a weekend. The slides, the whirlpools, the wave machine, even the smell of chlorine… There never was and never will be anything as fun as this. Thus when a colleague told me that he used to spend his birthday parties at Blub, exploring the ruined space made me feel uncomfortable. What with the neglected, littered pools, the broken glass underfoot and the clouds of paint can fumes, it’s not easy to project the feeling of childhood playfulness and innocence onto this abandoned space. In fact, the two concepts couldn’t be further apart.
The main area of the complex, with two large pools, far more closely resembles a skate park. It’s cold and dark, but this would once have been the centre of activity. It’s scattered with rubbish, some old some new, and the rapids have reportedly been taken over by rats. The place has been closed for ten years, and it’s quite clearly had plenty of visitors since, both of the rodent and the graffiti-ing variety.
Climbing the stairs up into the tower will take you to a hole in the wall two stories up where a slide would have once been. The slide in question has been taken apart, its pieces piled up in a heap and put to one side. Don’t want anyone injuring themselves, after all.
The spa/sauna area is, for me, the creepiest, mostly because it’s the strongest evidence of the building’s complete abandonment. Leaflets litter the entrance area, many of them still displaying the price in marks (before the Euro was introduced), and the office is a carpet of soggy ring binders, mounds of long-forgotten paperwork and video cassettes. Clearly they just left one day and never returned.
Heading underground and into the gym and fitness area, too dark to photograph, the machines lie in their original places, the sprung floor of the dance studio still squidgy, windows cracked and vandalised, and television sets smashed from their mountings. It’s dark, it’s horror movie-esque, and it’s not somewhere you want to stick around for long!
Leaving the claustrophobic and airless indoor area and heading outside, the sun glistens and refracts off ice and broken glass. There’s another tower leading to an absent slide and a sign on a faux mound of rocks instructing swimmers not to climb and jump.
In the light of the day, it’s still an unsettling sight. One that makes you question how much, or how little, can really change in ten years.
Blub (short for Berliner Luft- und Badeparadies) is on a large site with plenty to explore both inside and out, and accessing the area is no problem at all, with very little obstruction on any side. It’s only a five minute walk form Grenzallee U-Bahn on the U7 in deepest Neukölln. Along with the photos from my first snowy trip there at the end of January, I added my friends’ Instagram shots from my second visit.