Bunker 5001/17

Fictional, Experiential Architecture


A museum complex for the hidden nuclear bunker of the former GDR government.

Collaboration with Max Haller


The bunker 17/5001 was a secret nuclear fall out shelter of the GDR government. Since the 1980s the camouflaged bunker would have housed a autarchic emergency government. At that time the bunker was the most advanced nuclear shelter of the countries of the former Warschauer Pact. The damped structure would have withstand the explosion of a nuclear bomb in the closer surroundings.


The association "Berliner Bunkernetzwerke" (BBN) is planning to open the bunker for the public and cooperated with students of the Institute of Media and Design of the Technical University Braunschweig to design a new museum complex.


During our research about the building the system of distincitve operating mode of the building seemed a interesting starting point. The new museum complex visualizes the most extreme mode which would have been used en the case of a nuclear fall out. During this mode the building would run hermetically sealed autarchic for 36 hours to protect the innermost circle of government representatives.
After all the human being due to its biological limits is the weakest link in the highly thought through protection of the bunker. To visualize the contrast of oxygen demand and the technical endurance of the structure we decided to build air spheres on top of the four air shafts of the original bunker - each representing the volume needed by the four different groups of people staying inside during the 36 hours of complete isolation. The soft and light shapes of the air spheres contrast the rectangular massive shape of the original bunker. Their shapes and positions reminiscent the shafts´ functions.


Ceci n'est Pas une Bunker.
or „Ceci n‘est pas une pipe“, Magritte, 1929. This statement represents the problem of the design process. In 1993 the bunker was permanently sealed due to vandalism. Later, it was shortly reopened to the public and guided tours were offered to the many visitors. Furthermore, one member of the Berliner Bunkernetzwerk was granted access to document the interior with thousand of photographies for an online virtual tour. Again, it is permanently sealed and buried under a couple of meters of soil since the end of 2008. The virtual tour was the only basis to get an understanding of the building we were supposed to design a museum for.