The fancy pipes of Berlin. Unveiling a mystery.

Some say Berlin is young, hip and artsy. I say it’s funny because it’s got pink pipes.
Funky rumors have been spreading just as the pipes themselves do all over the city.

What are they? Tube mail, heat pipes or some giant artwork? Why does one often see them running along streets, sneaking around corners, looping above crossroads, crossing fences, vanishing into bushes and appearing out of treetops?

There is a simple and very practical answer to it: Berlin has got wet feet.

Groundwater level is quite high at an average 2 meters below the surface. Therefor almost every building has its ankles in a subterranean puddle. When a new building project starts impeding groundwater needs to be drained off the foundation pit. The pipes are to pump away the water towards the next river or canal.

If you come upon a pink pipe next time, follow its course. You’ll either arrive at a building site or at the other end of the line. That is either the river Spree or a canal and you might see a shallow stream of water purl out of the opening at the end piece of the pipe.

And why are they given these quirky turns and twists? There is a practical answer to this, too. During cold winters when temperatures fall to 15° Celsius below zero or less there is threat of material shrinkage and breakage. They are a method to compensate thermal expansion (and shrinkage) by interrupting long linear parts of the line.

An astonishing discovery is that one can even see the pipes from space! Well, if zoomed in properly, of course.
After a quick web research I could make out their cradle – the yard of a construction service company situated in an industrial area at Hohenschönhausen, a district in the northeast of Berlin.

Edit: If you are interested in taking a closer look on the images of the above posted slideshow visit my website. If you’d like to purchase image licenses or buy a print, don’t hesitate to contact me.

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31 Responses to “The fancy pipes of Berlin. Unveiling a mystery.”
  1. They don’t seem to observe the legal color code for pipes:

  2. ullala says:

    do the pipes get removed once the building work is finished?

    • Robert says:

      Yes they do, unless there’s another building site nearby. If there’s a huge area to be developed and many plots to be built on, they sometimes remain for years.

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