What do you do with a virtually indestructible, 130-foot-tall flak bunker that was built to protect German citizens from Allied bombs? In the Hamburg district of Wilhelmsburg, local authorities are planning to convert an enormous World War II-era bunker into renewable energy power plant that will supply power to 3,000 nearby households.
The flak bunker on Neuhöfer Strasse in Wilhelmsburg was constructed in 1942, and during the war, up to 30,000 people crammed into the massive structure while Allied bombs rained down on the city. After the war ended in 1947, the British army filled the bunker with dynamite in an attempt to demolish it, but the explosions only destroyed the interior, leaving the main structure intact. Now, instead of spending more energy and money attempting to bring the 70-year-old relic down, the city of Hamburg plans to convert it into an energy bunker.
Beginning in 2012, a heating and power system fueled by wood chips will begin operation on the ground floor of the bunker. Approximately 3,000 square meters of solar panels will be installed on the roof and south face of the bunker; and waste heat from a nearby industry will be piped into the bunker to be stored and fed into the grid.
IBA Hamburg (International Building Exhibition) is spearheading the Energy Bunker project, and it seeks to transform the island of Wilhelmsburg into a laboratory of green architecture and renewable energy solutions. The exhibition will take place in 2013, and preparations are currently underway. In addition to the energy bunker, IBA Hamburg is transforming a nearby landfill that previously held toxic chemicals into an “energy hill” that will produce wind and solar energy.