Berlin's Bunkers

Berlin's Bunkers
© Nicor / Wikimedia Commons

When one mentions the architecture of Germany during World War Two, the first ideas that come to mind are not the possibilities for new growth in the 21st century. But that is exactly what the Nazi bunkers that were built provide for us today. In Berlin, these bunkers are a monolithic and often oppressive reminder of the past, but are also ripe for intelligent thought about what they can be used for in the future. More information and images after the break.

As the Second World War was coming closer and closer to Berlin, the Third Reich implemented construction on over two hundred air raid shelters for civilians, as well as on large flak towers for air defense and an extensive network of underground shelters for the more important members of the government. The air raid shelters were scattered throughout the capital, giving nearly the entire population of 4 million in Berlin a safe place during attack. There were also three main flak towers built, in the Tiergarten, Friedrichshain, and Humboldthain. These were used primarily as air defense bunkers and as shelter for the soldiers stationed in Berlin. The most famous bunker in Berlin, the Fuhrerbunker, was part of a large complex of underground bunkers built to protect the elite of the Reich, and stretched for miles under the center of the city.

© Donath, Herbert / Wikimedia Commons

As the war came to a close, control shifted to the US and USSR, who destroyed many of the already damaged bunkers to make way for residential and commercial rebuilding. Of the bunkers that were not destroyed, some were used as storage facilities for food, textiles, and other goods. Others merely sat empty and abandoned, reminders of the horror the city has just underwent.

© Link, Hubert / Wikimedia Commons

In present day Berlin, the remaining bunkers nearly blend in to the surrounding cityscape. Only one flak tower still remains, and it has been overgrown with greenery and is now part of a public park. Only about fifty of the air raid shelters are still standing, but it seems as though each is used differently. Some of these shelters are also overgrown and incorporated as public parks, while others sit empty. Other remaining bunkers continue to thrive as hauntingly chic venues for nightclubs and fashion events. Probably the most innovative use of an abandoned bunker can be found on Reinhardtstrasse in Mitte. This shelter has been converted into an art gallery on the lower floors, and on the top level is a penthouse for the owner.

© Andreas Praefcke / Wikimedia Commons

Most future plans for the remaining bunkers in Berlin include the words demolition. But with the right combination of imagination and creativity, these bunkers can be transformed into interesting structures that both acknowledge the past they were apart of and attempt to advance the city they inhabit.

Photo by davehighbury - Used under Creative Commons

Photographs: Flickr: easyberlin, davehighbury, Wikimedia: Andreas Praefcke, Hubert Link, Herbert Donath, Nicor References: BBC, gdrecon

Photo by easyberlin - Used under Creative Commons

About this author
Cite: Kevin Gerrity. "Berlin's Bunkers" 27 Jul 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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