Fichte Bunker

ONE LUXURIOUS GASOMETER

Images are author's unless otherwise noted

Berlin's oldest and only surviving gasometer, the Fichte Bunker, is now a luxury residence. It has a rich history of reuse, though. Built in 1874 to 1876, the gasometer's original purpose was to power the street lights nearby. Despite its size, the gasometer is not necessarily prominent. In fact, it's "hidden" behind parks and soccer fields, tucked into a quaint street.

The bunker and its distinct dome can be seen in the background of the picture, behind soccer fields and a children's park.

An emergency power generator leftover from the gasometer's days as a bunker

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The 56 meter diameter gasometer became an air raid shelter during World War II. This retrofit included the addition of 24 kitchens, the fortifying of walls and the ceiling, and the division of the building into six levels each with 120 chambers. On the night of February 2, 1945, some 30,000 people gathered in the bunker (including nearby prisoners) to protect themselves from the chaos of the late war bombings.

Then, during the cold war, the bunker housed refugees from East Berlin and some of Berlin's homeless population. This new purpose lasted until 1963, when it was recommissioned to store food, 7,000 tons of it. Part of the "Senate's Reserves", the food was in case of another Soviet blockade. But now the gasometer/bunker/shelter has a more upscale living arrangement. The top floor of the bunker was turned into luxury condominiums which each feature their own small rooftop garden, which of course makes for one large and impressive green roof. 

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In essence, the constant repurposing of the one-time gasometer suggests a history of sustainable thinking. Now, with an environmentally friendly, energy efficient apartment retrofit, that sustainability thinking has been given full display. 

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