Das braune Desaster refers to a historical event that occurred in the late 19th century in Berlin. For the first time, waterworks pumped groundwater to meet the growing demands of the city. Unknown at the time was the iron-rich character of groundwater in the region. Rust formed as the water was brought to the surface and came in contact with air. For several months, a great part of the city lost access to drinkable water, forcing the waterworks to once again use lakes as its source. Through analysis scientists finally identified the presence of iron in the groundwater. To alleviate the impurity, the water was oxidized, causing the iron to flake, and was then filtered. To this day the water system in Berlin is structured on a similar principle.
Das braune Desaster explores technical innovation and new processes that yield unexpected unsatisfying results. Growth and expansion are accompanied by a certain spirit of exhilaration. But insufficient knowledge sometimes causes systems to fail with calamitous results. Communities relying on these unverified processes are vulnerable and can thereby become casualties of progress.