Der Bierpinsel: Walrus in a tutu

Filed 30/3/2014 | Updated 2/4/14
Perhaps the weirdest of Berlin’s buildings, abandoned or otherwise, is the fantastically fucked-up looking Bierpinsel in Steglitz. It sticks out of the cityscape like a walrus in a tutu, though at least the walrus still sings, goo goo g’joob.
The Bierpinsel ain’t singing anymore but its architects must have been on the same drugs John Lennon was when he composed I Am The Walrus.
I am he as you are he as you are me and they were husband and wife duo Ralph Schüler und Ursulina Schüler-Witte, who also “designed” the hideous ICC conference center in Westend. Apparently the ICC had as much asbestos in it as Palast der Republik. But of course only the GDR’s showpiece was torn down.
I digress. Let’s stick to the Bierpinsel, so called by grateful Steglitzers for the free beer that was served on opening day October 13, 1976. It must have been quite a hooley. Apparently it also looks like a brush (pinsel), so its literal name is Beerbrush. It’s the strangest brush I’ve ever seen.
Now a giant multicolored mushroom, it was supposed to be an icon of futuristic 1970s architecture. Construction took four years – not bad when you consider how high everyone must have been at the time, and I’m not referring to the Bierpinsel’s 46 meters.
Set beside the motorway rudely cutting right through the center of Steglitz, it housed restaurants, pubs and even a discotheque in its four levels, but none could last long enough to make a proper go of it before it was shut down for renovations in 2002.
International artists were invited to paint it as part of the Turmkunst project in 2010, when they covered the whole thing in 2,000 liters of paint. I have to say, it looks good – four years later. It was only supposed to be that way for a year, but this is Berlin, where nothing ever happens as it’s supposed to.
An art café opened there on April Fools' Day 2010 so that was never going to last. They’re not there now. Nobody is. The whole thing is locked up and casually ignored by everyone, except for the drunks who use it to relieve themselves after a hard afternoon’s drinking. They should rename it the Pisspinsel. The smell is incredible.
The Berliner Zeitung reported last year that the fancy ass Bar Tausend is interested in becoming a tenant, and that the whole thing was to be repainted back to its original red color.
Apparently the architects were unhappy with the street artists’ psychedelic work. Like the thing looked so much better before.
“We’re stinkesauer,” your wan, who’s now 81, told Tagesspiegel in 2010. Her husband died in 2011. Maybe the shock killed him.
The owners, Tita Laternser and daughter Larissa, were also allegedly involved in a row with an insurance company over how to proceed after a water pipe burst and caused damage through frost.
“It can work out if everyone works together,” Laternser told Berliner Zeitung. “But we don’t know yet whether we’ll manage it.”
Meanwhile the Bierpinsel’s just sitting there awkwardly, vacant, unused, tapping its fingers as it waits to see what happens next.

The Bierpinsel, aka Schloßturm, a hideously attractive multicolored mushroom with a troubled past and uncertain future.

Schloßstraße 17, 12163 Berlin, Germany

How to get there
U-Bahnhof Schloßstraße is downstairs. The U9 goes here, though unless you live nearby the S-Bahn will probably be quicker. Get the S1 to Steglitz Rathaus, turn west out of the station, and take your first right onto Schloßstraße. The Bierpinsel is three or four blocks down on the left. If you miss it there’s something wrong with you. Here’s a map to make sure you don’t.
While you’re in Steglitz you could also check out the abandoned bowling alley and war-torn villa just down the road. I’m starting to really like Steglitz!

Getting in
This is the thing. You won’t get into the inner core of the Bierpinsel unless you know something I don’t, or unless you have a key. Go up to the piss-stained steps to the side – hold your nose! – and the first gate is easily passed. (Not anymore! See the update below.) After that you just need to try all the doors. I* made it in pretty far and up pretty high – high enough for a wonderful view of the motorway from the balcony – without getting into the sacred interior.

When to go
Whenever you want. Go at night if you want to enjoy nighttime views of Steglitz, or earlier if your eyes can bear the sight of it in daylight.

Difficulty rating
9/10 The gate has been repaired. I presume all the doors are now locked too. It’s probably not impossible – nowhere is impossible – but still, it’s damned difficult and not worth risking life and limb for..

Who to bring
Girlfriend/boyfriend for romantic views of, eh, Steglitz. Actually, maybe you should leave them at home.

What to bring
Beer, lots of beer. It may be called the Bierpinsel but the owners’ attempts to rename it as the Schloßturm will give you an indication of where their priorities are. Decide how much beer you want to bring, and then bring more.

Don’t do anything crazy and you’ll be fine. You’ll be pretty high up obviously if you go to the top. Don’t do something stupid like try balance on a balcony wall for example. Otherwise there are just the usual dangers – nosy busybodies, passing Polizei, flying walruses... 

UPDATE: Wednesday, April 2, 2014 – Well, that didn’t take long! I* went back today to get better photographs and found the gate up the first flight of stairs had been repaired! I suppose if you were determined you could swing around across the metal spikes and try to climb past but I’m not sure it’s worth risking life and limb for – especially as it’s likely they’ll have locked the previously open doors too. I didn’t risk life or limb to try and find out.
You can still admire the Bierpinsel from below, among the pungent piss stains, but of course it just isn’t quite the same.
I’ve upgraded the difficulty rating from a laughable 1/10 to a sobering 9/10. Don’t do anything crazy folks.

More crazy pictures can be viewed here:

*Customary disclaimer – I is not necessarily me. I am he as you are he as you are me. And we are all together. See how they run like pigs from a gun see how they fly. I'm crying.

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It looks like a Lego retro crazy building, and the bear art is great.

The Bierpinsel wasn't closed in 2002, as I visited the sports bar that was located on one of the floors in March 2005.

It closed for renovations in 2002. It obviously reopened in between.

Thanks for posting this one - the Bierpinsel housed an Argentine Steakhouse during my years in Berlin (1981-1986). I went to the restaurant once but have more memories about the building as an eyesore/landmark.

A part of the "Rathaus Steglitz" subway station is also abandoned, but I dont know how to go in.
And currently the "Steglitzer Kreisel" is a Lost Place too. :)

Steglitz is a gift that never stops giving...

It's (almost?) impossible to get in, but still worth visiting for the fabulous building!

Yes, dont go in. It is sealed off. It is a security problem due to the water tube issue few years ago The insurance company closed the building therefore. The poor owner has to wait now what will be. I hope that they will be able to renovate that building soon! Such a shame that the water pipe broke under the cold and destroyed the building....

Just in case anyone still cares, the first gate is open again. I don't know if the doors upstairs are unlocked as well, but it should at least be possible to get a nice view of Schildhornstraße. ;)

i live like 20 min away...and i can definitly say.....there is no getting in! they closed it down because of the aspest in the walls! (like almost ev ery ol dbuilding in berlin)

I've been there a couple days ago. When you go up the stairs at the side there is a door. There was a hole in the door through which you could reach the door handle on the inside. I have not tried it yet, but it's worth a shot, I guess. Oh and there was a light on inside.

I heard there was a way of getting into the Kreisel via the car park next door. There is supposed to be a door that leads directly into the Kreisel. But there are lights on every day and night, so there are propably some workers doing their thing. And I also never tried to get in. So... you know.

Went there today and the bottom gate was open so we could get to the blue metal doors shown in one of the pictures above, but these are locked - interesting architecture but can't see a way of getting in right now.

I've been there two weeks ago. The building is still ugly, the gate with the spikes was open. But after a few steps, there is the next iron door and this one was definitly shut - no way! I've made some shoots from outside, you can find them on my site and on Flickr:

is not true that is smell like piss. at all. i was there recently and climbed up the stair and there was like 4 teenagers playing music there. i hope the place opens soon, is so nice and so closed : )

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