Bananas, Techno and Prisoners: The Most Useful Bunker Of All Time

A vast, empty space filled by the historical currents of different eras.

Surrounded by some of Germany’s most prestigious and historical tourist sites, The Bunker, with its windowless façade, bullet pocked walls and strangely cubic form, would be easily missed.




Designed and built in 1943, The Bunker was created to shelter 3000 Berliners from the Allied Forces’ air raids. The building has an internal area of 1000 square metres, it is 18m tall, the walls are 2 metres thick and there were originally 120 rooms over 5 floors.

Over the past 70 years The Bunker has had many reincarnations reflecting the wants and needs of one of Europe’s most culturally shifting cities. Following its disuse as a bunker, the building was reassigned as a prisoner of war camp by the Soviet Army until 1957 when it was turned into a textiles and tropical fruit store. Due to its thick walls and well-designed ventilation it made a perfect refrigerator for tropical fruits, in particular bananas, and its proximity to the river Spree meant ease of distribution to the Berlin population.

After the fall of the Berlin wall the bunker underwent another transformation. As Germany, and Berlin in particular, embraced the underground dance music scene that was spreading across Europe from America, ‘Der Bunker’ became the beating heart of the techno scene in Europe, described as “the most hardcore club in Europe”. However, following a series of raids in 1995 and 1996 the raves became more and more infrequent, eventually forced the bunker to close its doors for good in 1996.



Since 2003 the building has been under ownership of Christian Boros and, following the completion of extensive restructuring and refurbishment in 2007, now houses a wealth of contemporary art that is exhibited throughout the 3000 square metres. Thankfully, the remnants of its rich and important past are evident everywhere, nestled amongst the artwork. Bomb damage on the outer walls, old remains of toilet fixtures and fading black-out paint hint to a past that has been intentionally preserved and, once noticed, are as full of meaning as the installations, sculptures and paintings that fill the space.