'Secret chaos' surrounds construction of German spy service's headquarters


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The Independent Online

An exaggerated sense of Teutonic order and a near-obsessive requirement for secrecy have been blamed for throwing German intelligence-service plans to build a prestigious Berlin headquarters into chaos.

When finally completed, the new federal intelligence service (BND) head office will be housed in a vast 64-acre glass and concrete complex employing 4,000 staff in the heart of the German capital.

But the €811m (£700m) project is four years behind schedule and €90m over budget. Construction is reported to be disrupted almost daily because of draconian security checks.

"Chaos kept secret" is how the Berlin newspaper Der Tagesspiegel described events at the building site. "Not only have the BND's costs run out of control, because of so much secrecy nothing is going as planned."

An unexpectedly high number of foreign labourers on the site are kept under constant surveillance by escorts of extra guards with orders to check that they do not take microfilm pictures of installments or attempt to plant listening devices in walls.

Bulldozer and excavator drivers are reported to have been turned away from the gates of the site for failing to turn up exactly on time. Builders have complained of being handed up to 300 plan drawings containing 4,000 mistakes.

Architects were said to have responded to BND demands for more office space by simply lowering ceilings to create an extra floor across the 30-metre-high complex.

"The planners' performance has been catastrophic," complained one unnamed building company executive to Der Tagesspiegel. "Ventilation shafts run right next to sewage pipes."

The agency overseeing the project said it is sticking to a "clearly structured planning and building plan".