WHILE THE PRIMARY campus of Berlin’s Freie Universität is in Dahlem, just west of the Botanischer Garten and just south of the US embassy’s imposing Dahlem location, the university also includes other satellite campuses in the former West Berlin. One of these is the Benjamin Franklin campus, located several kilometers southeast of Dahlem on the Spree. While some of its buildings, such as the massive University Clinic Benjamin Franklin (now under the management of Charité medical school) remain in active use, others are fading into disuse and disrepair.

Among the latter category are two striking brutalist structures at the opposite end of Schloßpark Lichterfelde: the Institut für Hygiene und Umweltmedizin (formerly the Institut für Hygiene und Medizinische Mikrobiologie), and the Tierversuchslabor, more commonly known as the Mäusebunker (“mouse bunker”).


The Mäusebunker gets its curious nickname not only from its bunker-like appearance (which the SOS Brutalism site describes as “reminiscent of a naval ship or the Star Destroyer in Star Wars”), but also its former history as an animal research facility. Pictures of the interior show rooms that manifest the building’s strange shape somewhat claustrophobically, though it is generally thought that the building’s days as an active animal research facility are behind it, and today it lies mostly unused.

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A short distance away from the Mäusebunker is the IHU, which, while somewhat more approachable (with a drive-up lane at the front door of the building) nonetheless presents an imposing combination of towers, curves, rectilinear surfaces, and a strange, swooping corner that juts almost churchlike into the sky. Its concrete surfaces are even more rugged and raw than those of the Mäuserbunker, and its severely asymmetrical X-like shape and inconsistent heights make it look like an entirely different building depending on which direction it’s viewed from.

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Both buildings are visible from public streets, though closer access to the Tierversuchslabor is somewhat limited by fencing. The closest public transport is the M85 bus to Krahmerstr. / Stockweg or the S-Bahn to Lichterfelde-Ost.