On a hill overlooking West Berlin, a series of domes sit quietly decaying into oblivion. Several decades of graffiti coat their surfaces, their white facets forming the background to clandestine art meetings and urban explorations. However, this quaint outpost has a sinister history, and the hill it sits on, Teufelsberg (German for Devil's Mountain), is not a hill at all, but a constructed high point.
Teufelsberg began as an Albert Speer-designed technical school, its construction cut short by the war. The hill emerged as all of the rubble from the war-ravaged city was carted here—there was so much of it that Teufelsberg eventually matched the height of Berlin's highest natural hill. The Berlin city council then decided to plant greenery over the broken stones, making the hill fit in with the surrounding forests of the Brandenburg plain.
The domes started to rise on the site as the Cold War picked up, and as the American National Security Agency set up shop. Teufelsberg soon became a listening post, from which NSA operatives would listen in on conversations and transmissions from East Berlin. Bucky Fuller's geodesic structures were co-opted to shelter radar arrays, highlighting the engineer/architect's relatively close relationship with the US Military.
Though the station was closed with the fall of the Berlin Wall, its slow decay back into the forest takes place while the NSA garners criticism for once again spying on European nations such as Germany, allegedly from structures similar to those on Teufelsberg (see last image). Photos .
View of the three radar domes. Image source.
Inside the radar dome. Image source.
Inside the station. Image source.
A view up into one of the domes. Image source.
A contemporary US Military listening post in Germany. Image source.
Teufelsberg overlooks the Grunewald. Image source.
Make sure to see our previous investigation on surveillance architecture.