In Steglitz is a building that I have not seen anywhere else in the kind, the Bierpinsel (beer brush). During my last stroll on Schloßstraße, I took a closer look at this unusual building.
The Bierpinsel story
The unusual tower is structurally integrated into the Joachim Tiburtius Bridge, which runs across Schloßstraße. The tower was designed by architects Ralf Schüler and Ursulina Schüler-Witte, who also designed the ICC in Berlin. In 1976, the tower opened after four years of construction.
Architecturally, the 47-meter-high tower belongs to the pop architecture of Futurism. Some may also call it Brutalism or concrete modernism. What is certain is that the building is unusually designed. A polygonal originally orange-red upper floor dominates the building and almost looks like a gondola high above the Schloßstraße. A tower next to the structure, with a staircase inside, takes visitors to the upper four floors.
Yes, and as we Berliners are, quickly find an association to a building, which quickly forget the original name Schloßturm. Even during the construction phase, the building looked like a shaving brush. Then, when free beer was served at the opening and the opening of a bar in the building was announced, the name was born – Steglitz had a beer brush (Bierpinsel). Berolinism can even be read on a sign on the tower.
The Bierpinsel has been a listed building since 2017 (including the distinctive exterior color!).
Use of the Bierpinsels
The plan was that the Bierpinsel would be used mainly for gastronomy. But after completion, the building initially stood empty and was already considered a “bankrupt building”. In mid-1976, a businessman was found who operated a beer and wine vault on the lowest floor, the Bierpinsel steakhouse on the second floor and the tower café on the third floor. He used the top floor for administrative and storage space. The Turm-Café served as the recording location for a popular RIAS radio program.
In 1980, the Wienerwald chain acquired the Bierpinsel as an addition to its tourotel on Schloßstraße. The state of Berlin still owns the land on which the Bierpinsel stands. Any buyer must sign a ground lease.
Perhaps one reason why over the years no business has ever been able to stay long and owners have changed quickly. For a few years, the tower was used as a discotheque and sports bar.
In 2008, the then owner wanted to revive the Bierpinsel with a gastronomic offer. During the renovation, he rented the tower to an art café in 2010 and street artists redesigned the tower facade. After water damage occurred in the winter of 2010/11 following a burst pipe, the building is empty again. A renovation was delayed due to a dispute between the insurance company and the owner.
In 2017, the tower was offered at Sotheby’s for 3.2 million. There was no buyer. In the meantime, there are plans to locate start-up companies in the space and to set up coworking spaces.
It’s actually a shame that the beer brush is standing there so unused and you can’t get inside. I’m curious to see how the story of the beer brush develops further.