The Mousebunker by Gerd and Magdalena Hänska


For a great example of how expressive Brutalist Architecture can be look no further than The Central Animal Labs or Mäusebunker Mouse Bunker’ which was built for the Freie Universität in Berlin as an animal laboratory.

This partly explains why it took so long to complete due to opposition by locals and animal right activists. It was designed between 1967–1970, and built with interruptions in two phases between 1971–1975 and 1978–1980. It allegedly could host up to 45,000 mice, 20,000 rats, and a number of frogs, sheep, chickens, and pigs.

The diamond windows bring indirect daylight to the labs and the striking tubes bring in fresh air but the way it was designed brings up the feeling of threat, it looks like a gunship with the ventilation tubes sticking out like cannons from the facade. I can’t find anything specific but it looks very much to me that it was the intension of the architects to reflect the purpose of the building in the foreboding design.

The principal Architects were Gerd and Magdalena Hänska who realised a considerable number of buildings and made a substantial contribution to post-war Berlin architecture.

It has been out of use since 2010, it contains asbestos but is a stark brutalist masterpiece and is worth saving. It has picked up a small cult following on social media where its easy to see some great photos of it.

This is a controversial building built with methods now which make it difficult to modernise yet its such striking building. It’s equally unusual that such an evocative design springs from a slightly darker history and reaction to its purpose. It would be amazing if it could be turned around, its idiosyncratic beauty appreciated and celebrated with a different use and a new purpose.

February 2021 : There is a rescue campaign launched by Architect Gunnar Klack and art historian Felix Torkar which is getting a lot of notice. Hopefully a future can be secured for this one of a kind building.

  • See the entry in SOSBrutalism for a really great gallery also from the inside of the building

Key Information

  • Name: Central Animal Labs Mouse Bunker”, Freie Universität Berlin
  • Location: Krahmerstraße 6, 12207 Berlin, Germany
  • Architect: Gerd and Magdalena Hänska, Kurt Schmersow
  • Year: 1971-1980

February 14, 2021