After looking for a singular space in Berlin, both for living and exhibiting their vast contemporary-art collection, Christian Boros and his wife, Karen Lohmann discovered an old five-story bunker in the central neighborhood of Mitte, Berlin. They were looking for something big and really interesting from a historical point of view. And they found it!
The bunker had been built in 1942 as an air-raid shelter for residents of the area and in 1945, the building was converted into a prison. After the war, it became a warehouse, first for textiles and then for produce.
Since then, the property had undergone various reincarnations: a nightclub, a nonprofit organization, and an exhibition hall—until the couple bought it in 2003.
For the renovation they took their cues from the nearby New National Gallery, designed in the 1960s by Mies van der Rohe. They transformed the building’s roof into a penthouse apartment for themselves, leaving the rest of the floors for exhibition space. “We were inspired by the early works of the Japanese architect Tadao Ando,” Lohmann explains. “He uses smooth concrete with visible shuttering marks to create planes that capture light. We opted for this for the walls, but contrasted the coldness of the concrete with limestone floors.”
From the start, they wanted an ample, open living area for large dinners and get-togethers with friends and fellow art collectors. Boros and Lohmann visited antiques dealers and auction houses, slowly putting together an array of furnishings that would serve as a framework for their art, which includes pieces by Wolfgang Tillmans and Franz Ackermann. Their penthouse alone holds more than 100 works, an eccentric and personal collection that reflects its owners’ spirited and passionate point of view.