The Reichsbahnbunker, also known as 'Friedrichstrasse Imperial Railway Bunker' was designed by Karl Bonatz under supervision of Albert Speer, “General Building Inspector for the Reich Capital”. The square building has an area of 1000 m² and is 18 metres high; its walls are up to two metres thick. There are 120 rooms on five floors. It was large enough to house 3,000 people, should it be necessary. Construction of the bunker was built by labourers in 1942.
After the war
In 1945 the bunker was occupied by the Red Army and used for prisoners of war. In 1949 it was used as textile warehouse. In 1957, because of the steady internal temperature, it was converted into warehouse for imported tropical fruit from Cuba, managed by state-owned company, “Fruit Vegetables Potatoes”. Known locally as the “banana bunker”.
After German Reunification in 1990, the building became the property of the federal government, in 1992 it became a club venue hosting fetish parties and grew a reputation as the hardest club in the world, but in 1995 it was closed by authorities. In 2001 Nippon Development Corporation GmbH acquired the bunker.
Life as a Gallery
In 2003, advertising entrepreneur Christian Boros, purchased the bunker and converted it to display his personal art collection. Accompanied with a penthouse on the top floor for private use. The renovations took place until 2007 when the site was opened for public viewings.
RealArchitektur were commissioned to convert the bunker into a gallery. The renovations involved removing 150 cubic meters of poured concrete. This made up a portion of the 3-meter-thick, bunker ceiling. Construction workers used a diamond drill and rope saw to cut away chunks of ceiling and walls, creating spaces stretching two-three stories in height (approx 13m). Rectangular shafts were cut into walls that enable visitors to look into rooms below, breaking up narrow spaces.
The penthouse itself is 450 square metres, including living space and views into the top floors of the surrounding neighborhood. Reachable by elevator and a flight of stairs, the layout features an entry room as wide as a gallery. Concrete walls, some with cabinets and closets cut from a single oak tree. The floors are made of shell limestone, as are the brick walls of the showers.