Dezeen Magazine

Exterior of Mäusebunker building in Berlin

Filmmaker Nathan Eddy presents Battleship Berlin documentary

Filmmaker Nathan Eddy teamed up with Dezeen to offer readers a 10-day screening of his documentary about the brutalist Mäusebunker building in Berlin, Germany.

The 40-minute film, titled Battleship Berlin, was available to watch exclusively on Dezeen until 20 January 2022.

Image of Mäusebunker from Battleship Berlin film
Battleship Berlin documents the brutalist Mäusebunker in Berlin

Battleship Berlin sheds light on the threats currently facing the brutalist Mäusebunker, or Mouse Bunker, which was built between 1971 and 1981 for the purpose of animal research.

Designed by German architects Gerd and Magdalena Hänska, the concrete edifice is now vacant and threatened with demolition. However, campaigns to save the building are also in place.

Concrete exterior of Mäusebunker in Berlin
The concrete structure is currently at threat of demolition

Berlin-based Eddy's film summarises these efforts to save the laboratory as well as the opposition to it, as it moves between interviewees with starkly opposing views.

The 10-day Dezeen screening follows its premiere last year on the website of König Galerie, a gallery founded by Johann König who is among those featured in the film.

As an advocate for the building's preservation, König proposes transforming the building into a cultural centre, taking cues from the König Galerie that he created within a brutalist church.

At the other end of the spectrum is Axel Radlack Pries, the dean of the Charité hospital that owns the building, who described it as "a huge concrete monster" and supports its demolition.

Still from Battleship Berlin documentary
Battleship Berlin features interviews and footage of the building

Eddy told Dezeen that the conflicting views over the future of Mäusebunker were an "inevitable" subject for a film.

"In the case of the Mäusebunker and Battleship Berlin, it was inevitable that I was going to make a film about it as soon as it exploded into view in front of me," he told Dezeen.

"The conflict between the two opposing mindsets – preservation or demolition – is always the key storytelling element."

Woven between the interviews is footage of Mäusebunker from different angles, highlighting its famed pyramidal form, projecting blue pipework and triangular windows. Lesser-known details, such as its heavily tiled interiors, are also revealed.

Eddy hopes the screening of Battleship Berlin will help to "spotlight the cultural value of brutalist architecture" around the world.

Brutalist architecture is characterised by bold monolithic forms cast from exposed concrete. It is one of the 20th century's most controversial architectural styles.

"These are not easy buildings to love, they are downright loathed by many, but they are important and they are unique," Eddy said. "But they are, admittedly, difficult to repurpose."

"Therein lies the challenge, but I like an uphill battle, and a chance to change minds."

Triangular windows of the Mäusebunker
Triangular windows are among Mäusebunker's distinctive features

Another film directed by Eddy that celebrates brutalist architecture is The Absent Column, which focuses on the Prentice Women's Hospital by Betrand Goldberg in Chicago.

Eddy recently published a documentary with Dezeen that explores the life and work of Helmut Jahn, the American-German architect who passed away in 2020.