Concrete Thinking – Interior Design
A couple transform the top floor of a former air-raid bunker into a spare and luxurious penthouse full of contemporary art
Christian Boros, the owner of a German advertising agency, and his wife, Karen Lohmann, an art historian, were looking for a singular space in Berlin—both for living and exhibiting their vast contemporary-art collection—when they discovered an old five-story bunker in the central neighborhood of Mitte. The bunker had been built in 1942 as an air-raid shelter for residents of the area. “It was what we wanted: something really interesting from a historical point of view,” Lohmann recalls.
In 1945, the building 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-together 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. Originally published in ELLE DECOR España.
Some features into the design
In the living area of Christian Boros and Karen Lohmann’s Berlin apartment, furnishings both vintage and new mix with contemporary art, including a Wolfgang Tillmans photograph of Kate Moss.
A concrete-clad fireplace separates the dining and living areas; the cocktail table is from Asia, and the dining chairs are by Warren Platner for Knoll.
In the library, a pair of vintage chairs is upholstered in a purple velvet, and the console is from Bali.
A Zanotta sofa in the living area.
A Mies van der Rohe daybed and a vintage desk and chair in the guest room.
In the bathroom, the tub made of the same limestone used for the floors throughout.
Photographed by Tim Brotherton/Katie Lock
Source Elle Decor
- Happy Birthday, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe (inspired-weightloss.com)
- Ludwig Mies van der Rohe: His five most famous buildings (csmonitor.com)