A mirror for the HafenCity
A mirror for the HafenCityby Magdalena Pfeffer | 12.11.2011
Spiegel buildingThe new Spiegel media group headquarters convinces with inner values and less with the strict grids of its glass façade.
After more than 40 years inside the office building at the Brandswiete the complete Spiegel media group moves its over 1,000 employees into the new Spiegel building , located at a prominent place at the Ericusspitze at the Eastern end of HafenCity. The building has a larger potential to become a dominant gateway, a gateway to HafenCity. The visualizations made by competition winner Henning Larsen Architects (Copenhagen) had things glittering and shining.
The renderings show that the 14-story building has an expressive shape, creating a striking silhouette against the sky. It seems to be covered by a translucent, filigree shell which promises to give away much of what’s happening inside, since it looks open and transparent. A part of the façade, set-off across multiple floors, looks like an oversized window towards the harbor. Together with the adjacent Deichtorcenter an exciting composition could evolve, creating various open spaces across different terraces.
Between Rendering and Reality
However, the first pictures of the Spiegel building are almost disappointing. They reveal what visualizations can tell: Everything or nothing. Unfortunately, the façade is anything but transparent, which is a general prejudice concerning glass façades anyway. Due to its end-to-end grid the building appears rather closed, almost dull. All the uniform façade reflects is the surrounding buildings and the harbor.
The flood-protected brick base appears nearly plastic compared with the glass façade and fits into the location. The material mirrors the atmosphere of the historic warehouse city and creates pleasantly noble and at the same time fixed public spaces.
However, the building’s interior surprises with a complex and differentiated design. It is organized around a large atrium with stairs and bridges crossing it at various heights. A structural network as a built metaphor of communication and transparency within the company.
Unfortunately, the visualization suggests a different picture than what reality now is about to show: Unlike the architecture appearing light and airy on the renderings, the atrium is in reality rather strict and geometric, which is not necessarily negative. A blend of clear white areas and warm wood lets the architecture appear very graphic. The light coming in through a skylight creates a pleasant atmosphere.
An Interior that’s worth its Weight in Gold
The canteen could turn out to be one of the most exciting elements of the whole Spiegel building. However, it will not be an easy task to be the successor of the canteen designed by Verner Panton inside the old Spiegel building. The spectacular room from the 1960s held in flashy orange is now more famous than the building itself. Parts of the furniture will move into the new building, the rest will be able to be marveled at inside museums. The highlight of the new canteen, designed by Peter Ippolito and Gunter Fleitz, is the new acoustic ceiling, supposed to create a pleasant atmosphere through small aluminum mirrors.
The interior is, reflecting the sign of the times, state-of-the-art in terms of environmental technology. With a rear ventilated double façade, three-fold glazing, a geothermal system and photovoltaic technology – just to name a few technical peculiarities – the building has been pre-certificated with the “Hafencity Umweltzeichen Gold“. The sought-after award is awarded by HafenCity Hamburg GmbH to green and particularly sustainable buildings.
Currently, the most exciting pictures of the new Spiegel building were made at night, when the colorfully lit windows turn the box into a twinkling crystal. However, - one is nearly forced to say “unfortunately” – each room has a sensory system, turning off the light when the room is not in use. Let’s hope that the journalists are going to be busy even at night.
Henning Larsen Architects
Ippolito Fleitz Group GmbH (interior architecture)
Year of construction: 2011
GFA: 67,000 m²
Robert Vogel GmbH & Co. KG