June 12, 2020 - Mäusebunker - Let Us Take Over: For Re-Use
e-flux Architecture
June 12, 2020
June 12, 2020


Central Animal Labs "Mouse Bunker," Free University of Berlin. Photo: Felix Torkar.

Let Us Take Over: For Re-Use
A vision for adaptive re-use of the former "Mouse Bunker" and of the "Institut für Hygiene und Umwelt"


Let Us Take Over: For Re-Use
A vision for adaptive re-use of the former "Mouse Bunker" and of the "Institut für Hygiene und Umwelt"


Open Letter

To the Chairman of the Board of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Prof. Dr. Heyo K. Kroemer
To the Chairman and the Members of the Supervisory Board of Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
To the Governing Mayor and Senator for Higher Education and Research, Mr. Michael Müller
To the Senator for Culture and Europe, Dr. Klaus Lederer
To the State Curator and Head of the Berlin Monument Authority, Dr. Christoph Rauhut

Let Us Take Over: For Re-Use
A proposal for the future of the former Central Animal Labs (Mäusebunker), Free University of Berlin, and of the Institut für Hygiene und Umwelt (Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine), Charité – University Medical School Berlin, Benjamin Franklin Campus

The growing public concern regarding the planned demolition of the “Mäusebunker” (Mouse Bunker), designed by Gerd und Magdalena Hänska, and of the “Institut für Hygiene und Umwelt” (Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine), designed by Fehling+Gogel, shows the importance that must be attributed to both structures in the city’s urban development policy discourse. The potential loss of these remarkable examples of German post-war architecture has prompted diverse voices to speak out on their behalf. Several open letters as well as the petition published on change.org articulate the many reasons for the preservation of this architectural ensemble. Berlin’s own Monument Authority and Senate have also recognized and acknowledged the architectural and cultural value of these buildings. We herewith declare our support for these positions, each of which proves the importance of these buildings, and the urgency of our cause.

A Vision for Adaptive Re-Use
This open letter focuses specifically on the future. We understand that these buildings pose a heavy burden to the Charité University Medical School, affiliated with Humboldt University and Free University Berlin—due to contaminants, damage, and their poor overall condition.

Therefore we would like to make an offer: we would like to assume responsibility for both the Institut für Hygiene und Umwelt and the Mäusebunker, in order to develop a concept for their re-use encompassing a long-term strategic perspective. With the buildings under our auspices as leasehold or freehold, we would preserve the ensemble by accompanying the process of establishing them as heritage buildings and by finding a use for them that serves the public interest. Our vision for the project is to create long-term value for society and mark the beginning of a new cultural landscape.

A Dynamic, International Hub For Art, Culture, Science, and Innovation
The two-building ensemble at the Benjamin Franklin Campus in Berlin-Steglitz has the potential to become a prominent place of encounter where various disciplines converge—a venue featuring a program that spans art culture, and science, fostering interdisciplinary discourse and innovation. Artist studios and exhibition spaces would exist alongside work spaces for the creative industries. Throughout the year, a public program would showcase joint projects by the users, creating a platform for wider community awareness and dialogue.

An overarching concept would be developed in a collaborative decision-making process. This framework would serve as orientation for all activities and programmatic decisions affecting the buildings. An approach focusing on interdisciplinary collaboration and expertise would make the Institut für Hygiene und Umwelt and the Mäusebunker the first place of its kind with international standing in Berlin.

A Chance to Create a Space for Art and Creativity in Berlin—Working Together to Shape the Future
Berlin owes much of its current appeal as a thriving international capital of culture and entrepreneurship to the spaces and independent spirit cultivated over decades by the cultural and creative scene. Nevertheless, we must observe how these very spaces are increasingly losing ground. The current situation of these two buildings offers a chance to establish a highly symbolic flagship project—one that signals the political will in Berlin to rethink, support, and initiate creative and cultural innovation in the long term. Architectural monuments—such as the Mäusebunker, which is regarded as a key work of Brutalism in Germany, and the Institut für Hygiene und Umwelt, likewise an outstanding design achievement—provide an ideal basis for raising public awareness, communicating Berlin’s rich history helping to shape the future.

We would like to take this opportunity to be the initiators of this collaborative effort—and invite you to join us in pursuing this vision.

Arno Brandlhuber, Johann König



Change.org petition for the Mäusebunker, initiated by Gunnar Klack and Felix Torkar
Open letter by Katalin Gennburg (Berlin House of Representatives) and Anh-Linh Ngo (ARCH+)
Open letter by Kristin Feireiss (Aedes Berlin) and Adrian von Buttlar (TU Berlin)

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