The Long Way to Mäusebunker

I had dedicated some time during my visit to Berlin to hopefully visit Mäusebunker, an old animal testing laboratory that had become an icon of Brutalism in the city. I knew it would take some time as the train ride in one direction was 40 minutes alone. Then there were a few stops I wanted to make along the way which would only add to the length of the overall journey.

I was already out that morning exploring the East Side Gallery and the area that surrounded. I crossed a bridge over the Spree heading for Schlesisches Tor. Underneath the raised tracks a crowd had already gathered outside a small pub situated between the two lanes of traffic. I climbed the stairs to the platform and took the next train heading west.


The first stop was Pallasseum, a large residential building in the district of Schöneberg. I walked through the residential area where people went about their daily lives. Considering the size of Pallasseum it wasn’t until I was standing in front of it that I could truly appreciate the size of the complex.

Pallaseum has 514 apartments, which house over 2000 residents. It spans a street as well as a World War II bunker. After construction it was praised as a successful answer to social housing at a large scale. Though it quickly became home to vandalism and the area became less desirable to the point where demolition was even considered. Luckily, the local municipality put time and effort into raising the standards for the residents and now the building even has protection.

Hours could have been spent photographing Pallaseum, especially the details of the building and spaces the large complex created for its residents, some of which were accessible. I would have liked to capture the building from the other side of the concrete bunker and even hope to venture inside.

As I walked towards Paul-Gerhardt-Kirche there was plenty to stop and look at. Each city block different. They all had buildings that stood out from the others. Corners that had been changed during the war and either been obviously rebuilt with little consideration for the surroundings or left empty entirely.


Paul-Gerhardt-Kirche was built on the foundations of an older church that was destroyed during the war. It’s triangular shape is reflected in every aspect on the building.

It wasn’t until afterwards that I realised that I had missed St Norbet tucked away just around the corner! But instead, across the street stood a very small and very unique cinema with cherry blossoms on either side. Yet another distraction.

Odeon Kino

Surprisingly for this trip this wouldn’t be the only cinema I would be taking pictures of.

I had already walked quite far and took the quickest route to the nearest public transport option which was suggested to get to my next location. Unfortunately, the further I got away from the city centre meant that the options were becoming more limited and would require more walking.

Further out of the city I went but I was having second thoughts whether I had time for everything I hoped to see. It was a lot to fit in and Pallaseum had taken more time than expected but I couldn’t just travel passed Bierspinsel.


More often that not I find myself captivated with metro stations when visiting a new city, when really they are there to provide transport from A to B. I had to limit myself as already time wasn’t in my favour and I had still not reached my planned location. I stayed a few minutes waiting for the crowds to clear outside Feuerbachstrasse station before walking towards Bierpinsel.

It wasn’t long before I had to stop again when two buildings caught my eye on the other side of Schloßstraße. One an elegant cinema complex Titania-Palast that had opened in 1928. Fortunately the building was saved when the chain Cineplex took over in 1995 but unfortunately the inside was gutted and the original interior was lost.

The other was an intriguing glass building. It was at one point Forum Steglitz, one of Berlin’s earliest shopping centres. The buildings glass and steel is traditional to its 1970s origins. These features along with its new method of shopping had made it popular with local residents. Currently Forum Steglitz is undergoing another remodel with aims to make it a mixed use property.


Following the road, framed by the shops on each side, stood Bierpinsel on top of an overpass. For many reasons the structure stood out, not just because of its location but also its strikingly unique design and its more recently updated paint work.

The 47 metre tower has three floors originally home to a restaurant and nightclub. When the tower was built in 1976 it was red. It wasn’t until 2010 when it was given its current look by prominent graffiti artists during the Turmkunst event.

The design was obviously futuristic, a concept that continued even into even the smaller more hidden details. Even after fifty years looking at it makes you feel like you have slipped into a dystopian future or alternate reality. Hopefully that feeling continues for many generations to come as Bierpinsel goes through redevelopment.

Annoyingly it was back the way I came to the closest station and make it to the train to my final destination.

I walked through a quiet suburb before coming out at a main road, on the other side was my destination. What I didn’t realise was that I would be getting a two for one.

Institut für Hygiene und Mikrobiologie

I had come to visit Mäusebunker not knowing that the Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology existed. I walked around the back of the buildings complex structure then underneath it before emerging at the front in its car park.

Completed in 1974, the Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology was originally a part of the Free University of Berlin. It was designed by architects Hermann Fehling and Daniel Gogel, who together made a considerable contribution to German postwar architecture. Now the building is owned by Charité, one of Europe’s largest university hospitals.

A low design that built at the center was used to help incorporate the building into its suburban surroundings. The structure features many different geometric shapes and angles, resulting in a building with no two sides the same and very little symmetry to be found. Directly opposite stood Mäusebunker.


Mäusebunker’s design is singular with its pyramid shape and striking ventilation pipes that protrude from its walls. From the beginning the design from Gerd Hänska was seen as controversial, especially due to the buildings original use as an animal testing facility.

Unfortunately the building was fenced off, so getting close was out of the question. There was a break in the fence but I decided against it, after all I was there to document. I walked around the building, alongside a canal, taking advantage of any opportunities to capture the different angles and details of the building that gaps in the trees allowed.

Mäusebunker has been empty since 2020 and was due for demolition later that year. Along with the Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology a petition was started. Gaining popularity quickly it saved the two buildings from demolition and now other uses are being explored. Though demolition is an unlikely fate for either, like many other at risk buildings, their future still hangs in the balance.


Alexanderplatz was becoming a very familiar location as I was passing through it everyday more than once but this was the first time I would be arriving on the U-Bahn.

Usually I would spend far more time capturing unique stations, especially the interiors but Berlin’s transport system was far more extensive than the other cities I had visited.

I didn’t realise it at the time but to find Alexanderplatz so empty was a rare occurrence and provided me with the excellent opportunity to admire those details that makes the station stand out.

Outside the station I was greeted by a familiar sight, Fernsehturm, a TV tower that is now a well known icon of the city. It was here I finished my journey as the setting sun kissed its metallic sphere high above me.

Further reading:

I have also put together my travel across Budapest in a similar way as I make my way across the city to Kerepesi Cemetery.

My zine BRUTAL III featuring The Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology is available to order. It also features Mäusebunker another brutal icon in Berlin. Both of these buildings and more brutal architecture in Berlin can be found in my post BRUTAL Berlin.

Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology

Institut für Hygiene und Mikrobiologie

Completed in 1974, the Institute was originally a part of the Free University of Berlin. It was designed by architects Hermann Fehling and Daniel Gogel, who together made a considerable contribution to German postwar architecture. Now the building is owned by Charité, one of Europe’s largest university hospitals.

A low design that built at the center was used to help incorporate the building into its suburban surroundings. The structure features many different geometric shapes and angles, resulting in a building with no two sides the same and very little symmetry to be found.

Along with Mäusebunker the building was threaten with demolition but saved by petition and later in 2021 listed as a historical monument.

Further reading:

My zine BRUTAL III featuring The Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology is available to order. It also features Mäusebunker another brutal icon in Berlin. Both of these buildings and more brutal architecture in Berlin can be found in my post BRUTAL Berlin.

Central Animal Laboratories of the Free University of Berlin

Zentrale Tierlaboratorien der Freien Universität Berlin
Central Animal Laboratories of the Free University of Berlin

Situated in the south west of Berlin the building is now more commonly referred to as Mäusebunker (Mouse Bunker in English) but has gone by many names since construction was completed in 1981.

The buildings design is singular with its pyramid shape and striking ventilation pipes that protrude from its walls. From the beginning the design from Gerd Hänska was seen as controversial, especially due to the buildings original use as an animal testing facility.

Mäusebunker has been empty since 2020 and was due for demolition later that year. A petition was started and gained popularity quickly saving it from demolition and now other uses for the building are being explored. Though demolition is an unlikely fate for Mäusebunker, like many others, its future still hangs in the balance.

Further reading:

There are some great articles out there about the Mäusebunker from Dezeen, Abandoned Berlin and Greyscape that are well worth a read.

My zine BRUTAL III featuring the Mäusebunker is available to order. It also features The Institute for Hygiene and Microbiology another brutal icon in Berlin.

For more Brutalism on film see The Barbican on Film.


Architecturally I had high hopes for Berlin. I knew about the redevelopment of the city after the war then again after after reunification, but I wasn’t prepared for the scale of the development I would encounter. Whole city blocks and avenues created from nothing. Single apartment buildings stretching on and on.

On the other hand there were often spaces still vacant, undeveloped, where a building had once clearly stood. A different city had emerge after the war, one that I was very keen to see.

Being a subscriber to The Modernist I had seen their issue featuring the Mäusebunker and it had ignited an interested in Berlin. Though it wasn’t a motivator to visit Berlin it did definitely give the trip a purpose. Later I would find out a visit would require a 40 minute train journey, hopefully it would be worth it.

Though Brutalism is often my focus I ended up visiting and photographing a huge variety of buildings largely those built to solve the housing issue in the city after World War II but also modernist buildings thanks to a map I picked up from Blue Crow Media.

Embassy of the Czech Republic

Originally opening as the Czechoslovakian embassy in 1978. After the dissolution of Czechoslovakia in 1992 the Czech Republic took over the building and continued to use it as their embassy.

The buildings design is very typical of the era however the materials, granite and glass, were different in comparison. The interior has been left largely in its original state. Red and orange run throughout with furniture and fixtures designed especially for the building.

St. Agnes

A small but impressive former church hidden in the district of Kreuzberg. Built in 1967 by German architect Werner Düttmann, who at the time was West Berlin’s director of Urban development. The building no longer holds church services and since 2015 it has been repurposed as a gallery space after the interior went through a three million euro renovation.


Spitteleck is a prefabricated building built in the early 1980s. It was situated in clearly a largely residential area that used to be a part of East Berlin. Walking down Leipziger Straße there were tall apartment buildings lining both sides of the busy street, though they were more conventionally designed than Spitteleck that stood out at the end.

The Coca-Cola sign was added to the top of the building after German Reunification.


The Research Institutes for Experimental Medicine has gone by many names. More commonly called the Mouse Bunker or Mäusebunker in German, prior to 2003 it was known as the Central Animal Laboratories of the Free University of Berlin. Once an animal testing laboratory, now unused and empty with its future resting in the balance.

It’s surroundings and location were equally as unusual as the building. Hidden on one side by several low standing apartment buildings it could only be viewed front on. On the other side a woodland path ran alongside a canal, the lump of a building hidden by trees, even though they were bare during the early months of spring.

The Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine

Surprising to me the hygiene institute stood across the street from Mäusebunker. It was a Brutalism face off of the most highest calibre, two unique buildings that had both outlived their uses, but unfortunately there was a clear winner. Though the hygiene institute had its own personality with hidden details on every corner it fell a little short, especially when comparing it to its neighbour.

I walked underneath its raised structure with each corner and detail different from the last. There was no single side the same as another, neither any symmetry to be found. It was when I stood at the front of the building, viewing the building in full, that I could appreciate how complex the design really was.

Thanks to recent campaigning, led largely by architect Gunnar Klack and architecture historian Felix Tokar, both HygieneInstitut and Mäusebunker will not face demolition and the developers are looking for other more sustainable ways to develop the area.

Kreuzburg Tower

The neighbourhood of Kreuzburg revealed two fantastic surprises. A car park that I came across purely by chance and then Kreuzberg Tower. A completely baffling building in both design and function.

Kreuzberg Tower is an apartment complex made up of three buildings, the 14 story tower and two 5 story wings. It was designed by John Hejduk. Its facade is well known for its colourful and angular balconies.


The original Gedächtniskirche (or The Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial Church) was largely damaged during bombing raids in World War II. At first it was decided that the ruins would be removed and the whole area was to be redeveloped but after considerations the remains were to be kept at the centre.

The new design, which is a complete juxtaposition to the remains, consists of an octagonal new church, a chapel and a 12 metre hexagonal tower. The incredible detail of the block work cannot truly be appreciated until you venture inside, revealing 21,292 individual stained glass inlays designed by Gabriel Loire.


During my trip to Berlin I saw many large scale apartment blocks, they would line major roads and often continue on into the distance, but there was something different about Pallasseum. Firstly, it wasn’t built parallel to the road, the road actually ran under it. The building also wasn’t one continuous straight block, it criss-crossed itself creating small courtyards in between.

The building is known for the littering of satellite dishes that hang from the balconies and each section was almost a repetition from the last. Most peculiarly the building has been built over a World War II bunker, with is large concrete mass protruding from the south end of the building.

Further Reading:

The range of architecture in Berlin was so vast, unique and interesting I want to put something together that will reflect that. Instead of focusing purely on Brutalism I want it to capture the city no matter the architectural style. I have already posted a few highlights on film and hope that there will be more to come.

I used a number of maps from Blue Crow Media during my stay in Berlin.

The Inspiring Fight On The Ground To Save Berlin’s At-Risk Brutalism featuring HygieneInstitut and Mäusebunker.

Berlin’s Concrete Pallasseum and What Lies Beneath

Copies of The Modernist featuring Mäusebunker are still available.

Berlin on Film

My recent trip to Berlin has left me inspired and I continue to look through the photographs I took in the city imagining a larger project that needs to be brought to life. Which hopefully will once I get the remaining films back.

I found myself leaning towards my film camera more and after seeing some of the first results I can see why. The process of shooting film has become more appealing over the last few years for many reasons, though it is more expensive and it can be weeks, sometimes months, before I see the image. Though, this is mostly due to my shooting habits and a roll of film can be in the camera for a while, with me only taking one or two shots every now and then, before having a batch to send off to the lab. One of my latest films had images from three different countries on it.

While I wait and ponder over the direction I want to take a larger project I wanted to share a handful of images I shot on colour film during a weekend in Berlin, of course they largely focused on architecture.

Kreuzberg Tower

Residential Complex Spitteleck

St Agnes Church


Cafe Moscow

Unknown Apartment Block

Kino International

Jerusalem Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints

Further reading:

Follow my other film projects such as The Barbican on Film or Documentary in Colour which goes back to a time before I even owned a digital camera.

BRUTAL Bristol

Out of all the cities I have recently visited with the aim to photograph the unique and often brutal architecture, Bristol has far out exceed the others. Those that I found varied in function and design greatly, some of which are among the last remaining examples of their kind. After collaborating on BRUTAL Bristol with other contributors I thought it only fitting to compile a collection of my own.

Cheese Lane Shot Tower

One thing that I have enjoyed about photographing brutal architecture is what it can teach you about past history. A time when function was important and industry was very different. Many of the buildings I aim to capture have an important history and use which in recent years has become obsolete.

This isn’t more true than with the Shot Tower on Cheese Lane. For those, like me, that don’t know what a shot tower is or how the production of lead shot takes place. Let me explain.

The molten lead would be passed through a sieve at height and as it fell the droplets would form balls. At the bottom of the tower would be a pool of water that would dramatically reduce the temperature of the lead in their round form

With a change in production there are now only three shot towers left in the country and as well as being Grade II listed the one on Cheese Lane was the last to be built.

Broadmead Car Park

Prince Street Car Park

Prince St Car Park was especially interesting to me because of its similarities to Welbeck St, I don’t think I would be the first to make the comparison between the two facades. Also to be in a city with a surviving Brutalist car park made me think of Portsmouth’s long lost Tricorn.

Broadmead Baptist Church

In my opinion Broadmead Baptist Church would be Bristol’s hidden gem. Unassuming from the outside people walk below without even realising what may be above them. If you are one of the rare people to look up from street level you are teased by the angular roof and glass that leaves little hint to what would be inside. Adding to that is the building is largely home to a Tesco Metro, so many would assume nothing more than a stockroom or offices.


Though Castlemead loomed over the city and was continuously in view as I explored the city, it was late in the afternoon when I walked underneath its bulky form.

Clifton Cathedral

Clifton Cathedral was one of the reasons I wanted to visit Bristol in the first place. Its interior is remarkable. Every corner and detail is different to anything I have seen before. It makes concrete look elegant, detailed and delicate.

Rupert Street Car Park

Plimsoll Swing Bridge

Heading out of Bristol’s centre is Plimsoll Swing Bridge. Though the bridge and its function is unique in itself it was a few of the details that I was interested in, the control booth and staircases in particular. It was also from here where I could get a great view of another, more famous bridge, Clifton.

Further Reading:

This is the third post in my BRUTAL city series which focus on highlighting a particular city and its unique architecture, the previous ones were Hull and Oxford. Where next?

Jo Underhill is a fantastic photographer who has captured a number of brutal car parks across the country including Welbeck Street and Bristol’s Prince Street Car Park, which I would recommend taking a look at.

Many of the buildings here feature in BRUTAL Bristol, a collaborative zine created to showcase the unique architecture of Bristol from the perspective of photographers, writers, creatives and enthusiasts. There are a few copies of the zine left and so far it has helped FareShare SouthWest provide over a thousand meals for families in need!

Järvenpää Church through the Seasons

Over the years I have visited Järvenpää Church a number of times. At first it was just exploring the building and its surroundings, then I began to capture the same perspectives but at different times of the year.

Further Reading:

Exploring Linnahall through the Seasons

Chichester Festival Theatre

Chichester Festival Theatre is one of the closest and finest examples of Brutalism that I have to home. I often visit Chichester and it has been a focus of my photography work in the past, especially when exploring the city’s architecture for South Coast Journal.

Over the years I have shot the building numerous times, as well as on different formats. What follows is a collection of images showing Chichester Festival Theatre at different times of day and during different seasons.

Chichester Festival Theatre

The Barbican on Film

The Barbican Estate was built on a area of land in London devastated by bombings during World War II. Buildings within the Estate started to open from 1969 onwards, with the last being Shakespeare Tower, one of the prominent tower blocks, in 1976. The completion of the Estate provided over 2000 flats in the City of London.

The Barbican Estate, Arts Centre, library and a few other buildings make up the Grade II listed Barbican Complex and it is regarded as an excellent example of brutalism.

My plan was to walk around the estate capturing the buildings that comprise the Barbican complex on various film formats, mostly in black and white. It was during my second stop that disaster struct and I dropped the Polaroid camera that I planned to use for a majority of shots.

The damaged caused to the Polaroid meant that all subsequent shots came out blurry. I had only taken one shot before entering the complex of the looming high rise towers.

With the Polaroid abandoned I continued on with my film camera loaded with Ilford HP5 Plus.

The Barbican complex is a maze. I have been there a number of times before and always wandered in and out where ever the route took me, along the way discovering different places, some of which you wouldn’t expect to find in central London.

This time I tried to follow a certain path. The stairs and dead ends became frustrating, made worse by the fact that I had dropped and broken a camera. Each turning never took me in the direction I wanted to go but nonetheless fantastic opportunities to capture the buildings, their details and a large part of the complex.

I want this project to continue and grow on each visit. Discovering new parts and details about the Barbican as I go. The grand plan to extensively photograph the complex and one day to eventually visit the elusive Barbican Conservatory.

Further reading:

I recently watched a fantastic video called Golden Barbican by Joe Gilbert who captured the changing colours of the Barbican during several sunsets.

Capturing Brutalism continues with my BRUTAL Collection.

The Contributors of BRUTAL Bristol

I wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the contributors of BRUTAL Bristol by sharing their work and how to find out more about them. Without their interest and support in this project it would have never left the idea stage.

I hope that if you either already have a copy of the zine or you see their work for the first time here you will visit the links provided and show your support.

Ryan Trower 
Instagram @ryan_trower
Twitter @ryantrowerphoto

Simon Phipps
Instagram @new_brutalism
Twitter @new_brutalism

Jo Underhill
Instagram @jounderhill
Twitter @jostructuraleye

Alasdair Ferguson
Instagram @brut.alist

Andy Duffy

Instagram – @duffmonkey

David Griffith
Instagram @david.griffiths
Twitter @dpgriffiths


You can get your own concrete mini of Prince Street Car Park from Spaceplay as well as a couple of car park that have since been demolished, including Welbeck Street and The Tricorn.

David Bonney

Twitter @isetta_windsor

The zine wouldn’t have been possible without the written input from Tom Spooner, who provided his insights into Boardmead Baptist Church, and Ray Newman who talked us through the high rise tower blocks of Redcliffe.

Tom Spooner 
Instagram @dapwearer 
Twitter @dapwearer

Ray Newman
Instagram @ray.newman
Twitter @MrRayNewman

Further Reading:

BRUTAL Bristol is a collaborative zine created to showcase the unique architecture of Bristol from the perspective of photographers, writers, creatives and enthusiasts.

Money raised from the sale of BRUTAL Bristol and related prints will be donated to FareShare South West, a charity working in the Bristol area fighting against food waste and hunger.

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