The IBA Energy Bunker in the Wilhelmsburg section of Hamburg, Germany, officially opened this week. The monstrous bunker, built by slave labor during World War II to shelter residents from Allied air raids and to defend Hamburg, was an imposing—and crumbling—reminder of darker times. With walls thicker than a man’s wingspan, it was too big to blow up without damaging the homes in the neighborhood in which it sits.
Even when inoperational, the bunker was worth a visit, both a reminder of Germany’s dark past and a symbol of its staying power. The bunker is big and intimidating. Ghosts certainly linger in it. Still partly a memorial, the bunker has been transformed into a regenerative power plant.
“After more than 60 years of lying vacant, and following a project development and construction phase of seven years, this war memorial now symbolizes our journey into a climate-friendly future,” said Uli Hellweg, the managing director of the 2013 International Building Exhibition Hamburg (IBA) in a prepared statement.
Operational for more than a year already, the bunker has been providing heating energy via solar, biogas, wood chips, and waste heat from an industrial plant, to neighboring households. The Wilhelmsburg district of Hamburg aims to feature climate-neutral energy by 2025 and climate neutral heating by 2050. About 50,000 people reside in this part of Hamburg.
Note: The author was in Hamburg on a press trip sponsored by Hamburg Marketing.