Hamburg: Chilehaus

Scheme: Chilehaus | City: Hamburg | Developer: Henry Brarens Sloman | Architect: Fritz Hoger

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Chilehaus_Grundriss_5.OG_03I know – it’s not housing. But it could be. Chilehaus is a UNESCO site in a small but dramatic quarter of Hamburg called the Kontorhausquartier. This awesome (and I mean this literally!) expressionist office building looks like something out of Metropolis – simultaneously glowering and full of humour. I am not going to dwell on this building, but suffice to say that its 30,000 square metres could easily be housing. I calculate that 300-400 flats could fit in here (depending on how many bedrooms per home) which would give that many homes per hectare (the site is almost precisely one hectare). IMG_0384 (1)That’s a similar density to Dolphin Square and Ducane Court, both highly successful London 30s mansion blocks. Who said high density spoils cities or is inhumane? It’s all in the detail, which Chilehaus has in abundance. Every 7th brick is spun in these piers between the windows. So simple.

3 comments on Hamburg: Chilehaus

  1. Wow. What a great bit of city architecture. Love it.
    How deep is the plan?
    The detailing looks very Amsterdam School, especially with the white timber windows.
    What year is it?
    Are those balconies swooping across the front at high level?
    What happens at roof level? More pics please.

  2. The plan seems to vary from about 11 to 15 metres deep. Now you might say that that’s not enough for two flats and a corridor but it is: my own block is about 11m deep including external walls! Those are balconies swooping, yes. The building gradually gets skinnier on the top few floors, forming a natural roof profile. The light conditions weren’t right for me to take good photos so you’ll have to google for more I’m afraid. Chilehaus was started in 1922 and completed in 1924; they were a bit ahead of us over in Germany in embracing the modern…

    1. Plenty deep enough for decent housing. Mint St is 13m deep.
      Thanks, there are some fabulous photos of it online.
      4.8m bricks. In the 20s in Germany? I hope they paid for them early and up front….
      Makes building inflation in London look reasonable.

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