Berlin Can't Finish Its Reunification Memorial On Time Because of Bats

It took Berliners years to agree upon a design for a memorial to the reunification of East and West—but now that the project is underway, an unexpected hurdle is slowing it down: Bats. Lots of them.

The Monument to Freedom and Unity, which was designed by architects Milla & Partner and Berlin choreographer Sasha Waltz, was chosen back in 2011. The design is a massive steel bowl that actually moves as visitors walk around it, like a huge rocking chair—it's intended to represent the power of a united public. It's taken three years to work out the immense challenge of engineering the structure, and it was supposed to be finished by the fall, when the 25th anniversary of reunification rolls around.

But according to a new report in Der Spiegel, the project is far behind schedule, partially because of massive amounts of roosting bats on the stone podium upon which the bowl will sit. On a tour of the subterranean caverns, the writers got an up-close-and personal look at the infestation:

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Then she leads the way into another underground vault and points out a hole in the wall. "Bats fly through there," she says into the darkness, explaining that these chambers are known as "nursery roosts" because they provide a quiet refuge from male bats for roosting females.

Now, it seems, the bats will be relocated to a "species-appropriate" area outside of the city. It's unclear how long that will take, but the project definitely won't be ready for its intended unveiling. Ah, well—no one ever said democracy was easy. [Der Spiegel]