Schwimmverein Donaukanal

A project in context of the Social Design Department of the Angewandte hosted by KUNST HAUS WIEN

Schwimmwettbewerb „Quer durch Wien“ im Donaukanal zwischen 1912 und 1938
f.l.t.r. Amelie Schlemmer, Amanda Sperger, Ana Mumladze from the Schwimmverein Donaukanal
Map of the Danube Canal with swimming area and prohibition zones

Four students of the Social Design Studio of the University of Applied Arts Vienna are pursuing the goal of reviving the traditional swimming culture in the Danube Canal by founding the Schwimmverein Donaukanal. A popular bathing resort in Vienna 100 years ago, the Danube Canal has now fallen into oblivion as swimming water, although swimming is officially permitted there. The initiative of the Schwimmverein, docking as a participatory project to KUNST HAUS WIEN, aims to bring the 850,000 m2 "liquid public space" Danube Canal back into the awareness of the Viennese and  expand its use as a local recreation area.

KUNST HAUS WIEN as starting point for swimmers

Already the artist and founder of the KUNST HAUS WIEN Friedensreich Hundertwasser called the Danube Canal his "first sea" and regularly crossed it as a swimmer. The museum forms the starting point with lockers and changing rooms for individual swimming. Please note that swimming in the Danube Canal is at your own risk and responsibility. Towels and bath slippers can be borrowed at the museum. From the garden of KUNST HAUS WIEN, located on the Danube Canal in Vienna's third district, swimmers can walk to nearby entry points and let themselves drift south in the Danube Canal with the current about 450 meters. The swimming club also provides information about suitable entry and exit points and the recommendations for river swimmers which must be complied with.

Swimming discussions with experts

The research on the topic of "Urban Swimming" not only led the swimming club to its own swimming experiences and to the historical background, but above all resulted in an exchange with others who took up the topic or could contribute their own experiences.

Program of the Schwimmverein Donaukanal

Historical swimming tradition

A common bathing resort 100 years ago, the Danube Canal has now become an aquatic no-go zone. As early as 1827, the first river bath was opened in the Danube Canal, a ship bathing facility where you could first wash yourself in the canal water in a cage construction supported by a boat and later also make your first attempts at swimming. In the early 20th century, the swimming competition "Quer durch Wien" ("Across Vienna") gained enormous popularity. Some of the repeated swimming champions belonged to the swimming club SC HAKOAH. However, anti-Semitic polemics as well as the two world wars finally brought the regular sporting events to a standstill. As late as the 1930s, the newspaper "Der Abend" had ironically described the banks of the Danube Canal as the "Riviera of the Unemployed", and in the summer of 1933 it devoted an extensive report to the canal.

The Schwimmverein Donaukanal 

The Schwimmverein Donaukanal  was founded by Amanda Sperger, Amelie Schlemmer, Ana Mumladze and Fabian Ritzi in the Social Design Studio of the University of Applied Arts Vienna with the aim of researching the buoyancy of the Danube Canal and reactivating the awareness and joy of city swimming. Since February 2020, the founding members have been researching the necessary swimming conditions from water quality to the political dimension in times of urban overheating and climate crisis through expert discussions. With the social structure provided by the association, swimmers have the opportunity to share their experiences in the Danube Canal with each other and to explore Vienna through the individual swimming tours. Furthermore, the association is interested in looking at the existing with a new perspective and thus creating a sustainable offer for cooling down in the face of the city that is heating up more and more.

Flyer Schwimmverein Donaukanal

Schwimmverein Donaukanal_Karte Schwimmzonen

Swimming in the Danube Canal is at your own risk and responsibility: the Schwimmverein Donaukanal, the University of Applied Arts Vienna and KUNST HAUS WIEN do not provide a special water rescue and bathing supervision service. We appeal to personal responsibility, caution and consideration, adherence to the generally accepted bathing rules and responsible mutual assistance. The Danube Canal Swimming Club, the University of Applied Arts Vienna and KUNST HAUS WIEN expressly assume no liability! 

General swimming and river rules