Bunkers and Ballers

Find the buildings of the late Denys Lasdun too flowery?  The work of the Smithsons not brutal enough?  Then Berlin has just the thing for you.

A large number of the capital’s WWII bunkers survive intact. But they’re not underground, or hidden away in woods on the outskirts of the city.  One is a private gallery, another integrated into a school.  They’re essentially just too big and solidly constructed to demolish without vibrating the rest of Berlin to ruins (they were built to survive bombs after all) so they just remain where they are.

This one, on Pallasstrasse, doesn’t appear to be used for anything much.  Instead, a housing block was built to span over it;  responding to the sheer scale of the bunker with a piece of, er, robust design on an even bigger scale.  Which, if nothing else, is terribly impressive.  And the flats have good views.

Hang on, it’s gone…

No, there it is.  It’s hiding behind those trees.

Some impressive engineering to span the bunker without bearing any load directly onto it.  On the left you can see the base of a cantilevered staircase, suspended several stories up.

Note added 12 feb 09 – was cycling past recently and there’s a clear view of the graffiti on the roadside elevation of the bunker, depicting, I guess, a postcard of the ruined state of the place in 1945:

Anyway, back to the original post…

Ironically, 100m up the road is a sports hall complex by Hinrich & Inker Baller, more recent than their IBA project on Fraenkelufer, and even more whimsical. There’s a slightly unsettling feel of ‘fantasy grotto’ about the building, with ts various elements occasionally glimpsed through foliage, making it difficult to represent photographically.  It’s part of a suite of buildings on Winterfeldtplatz, including landscaping and street furniture around the market, which I’ve also covered previously.  It seems ludicrously overworked, particularly in a city as frequently grimy and tough as Berlin.  More comfortable in a wealthy Parisian neighbourhood perhaps?

The sports hall itself, well concealed, and competing with the stuff of the street:

The best time to see and understand the sportshall element is perhaps at night, when the brightly lit interior shines more clearly through the surrounding whimsy.  And looks quite impressive.

More images of both at my own  Flickr, plus some better ones by Pete Shacky here, and even more at an interesting site called Belle Epoque, here (has lots of Baller stuff).


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