Fichte-Bunker: Adaptive Reuse Transforms 19th Century Gasometer into 21st Century Apartments

Fichte-Bunker-gasometer-berlin-4

Fichte-Bunker-gasometer-berlin(Images: (left, right) ZinCo GmbH, reproduced with permission; Mike Herbst, cc-sa-3.0)

The Fichte-Bunker in Berlin, Germany, is a 19th century gasometer and former World War Two air raid shelter that recently followed in the direction of the four Gasometers in Vienna to provide some extremely chic homes.

Fichte-Bunker-gasometer-berlin-design(Image: Johann Wilhelm Schwedler (1823-1894), public domain)

Designed by innovative civil engineer Johann Wilhelm Schwedler, the Fichte-Bunker was built in 1874. Its church-like brick shell stands at a height of 21 meters and it has a diameter of 56 meters. In the 1920s, Berlin’s street lamps switched to electric, rendering this elaborate gas holder temporarily redundant.

Fichte-Bunker-gasometer-berlin-design-2(Image: Johann Wilhelm Schwedler (1823-1894), public domain)

In 1940, Fritz Todt, an engineer and senior member of the Nazi Party, appointed Siemens-Bauunion to transform the gasometer into a 750-room air raid shelter by reinforcing the walls with up to three meters of concrete. The bunker served Berlin well and survived notable bombardment – allegedly 30,000 people sheltered there on February 3, 1945 when it was really only intended for 6,000.

Fichte-Bunker-gasometer-berlin-abandoned(Image: Beek100, cc-sa-3.0)

The Fichte-Bunker became a refuge following the end of World War Two when Berlin was split and blockaded. It later became known as ‘the Bunker of the Hopeless’, providing notoriously horrendous shelter for the city’s homeless until finally being shut-down in 1963. It stored emergency supplies up until the end of the Cold War and was left to gather dust until SpeicherWerk Wohnbau GmbH bought it in 2006.

Fichte-Bunker-gasometer-berlin-2

Fichte-Bunker-gasometer-berlin-3(Image: Felix OMike Herbstcc-sa-3.0)

After some protest towards the proposals, engineer Michael Ernst and architect Paul Ingenbleek were allowed to work their magic and the former bunker finally became the ‘Circlehouse‘ in 2010. The top of the structure now houses thirteen 2-storey luxury condominiums (below) with spectacular private roof gardens. Access to the building is gained via an external elevator tower and bridge.

Fichte-Bunker-gasometer-berlin-5

Fichte-Bunker-gasometer-berlin-6(Images: ZinCo GmbH, reproduced with permission)

Impressive new apartments sprang up next to the Fichte-Bunker earlier in 2009 but the robust ex-gasometer’s intricate history means it rightfully takes centre stage.

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