On our way to Poland last month, we had an all too brief stop-over in Berlin. I only had a couple of hours spare while Gosia went to see the sites and I spent them visiting the Forschungseinrichtungen für experimentelle Medizin having seen pictures of it on-line. I couldn’t quite get over the idea that such a building could exist, so dramatic were the sloping concrete walls, triangular windows and multitudinous ‘exhaust-pipe’ ventilation ducts.
From the city centre I took the S-Bahn south followed by a 20-minute walk to the Charité university hospital campus that’s home to a number of brutalist masterpieces. I first came across the Institut für Mikrobiologie und Hygiene (there’ll be a post about that soon) and was admiring its towering, board-formed concrete angles when, glowering at me through the trees, I saw the brooding, monstrous form of the Forschungseinrichtungen.
It was intimidating, mesmerising and intoxicating. I couldn’t look away and wouldn’t have risked turning my back on it. It appeared that a giant concrete battleship had made its way 250km inland and was moored up close by. No photography can compare to the actual, real-life experience of standing within sight of it, such is its aura. Despite this, I wasted a few dozen frames of film through my Bronica SQ-A and a selection are below.
Parental Advisory – contains menacing scenes of extreme* concrete…
The building has been empty for more than a year but I can’t think how anyone might be able to pull it down, as it appears to be hewn from solid rock.
Right next door there was a car park filled with cars that appeared to have been so intimidated by the building that they had ceased to function. Alternatively, they belonged to former employees who were endlessly lost in the depths of the Forschungseinrichtungen.
I think all architecture may be ruined for me after seeing this building. I’m not sure anything will ever come close…
*Don’t say I didn’t warn you!