Address: Kannengiesserort 7
Constructed between 1883 and 1927, the centrally located warehouse district – the Speicherstadt – in Hamburg harbour extending over a length of 1.1 km was the largest and most modern logistics hub of its time. The construction of the Speicherstadt was a consequence of the 1888 treaty integrating Hamburg into the German Customs Union. As compensation for the loss of its previous privileges a free harbour zone was established. In charge of planning was the city’s senior civil engineer Franz Andreas Meyer. Setting new standards for building methods and facilities, the Speicherstadt is exceptional for its high degree of coherence in architectural and urban planning terms. The quarter was uniformly built with red brick façades, predominantly with Neo-Gothic features of the “Hanover School”. Especially notable is the representative character of the mainly functional buildings, a result of their proximity to Hamburg’s historic centre. This and its sheer volume distinguish the Speicherstadt significantly from warehouse complexes in other harbour cities. Thanks to the scrupulous reconstruction of the district after the devastation of World War II, today the Speicherstadt is the largest intact and coherently designed warehouse ensemble in the world.
Warehouses in general
Address: Kannengiesserort 7
Each block of the Speicherstadt stands on pile foundations made of 12-metre long conifer trunks. The blocks were constructed as skeleton structures to create the largest possible undivided surfaces for greater flexible use. In the course of building, various materials were tested as interior supports: wood, cast iron and reinforced concrete. As a result of the specifications set by Franz Andreas Meyer, the Speicherstadt evolved a coherent character that is nonetheless mixed with architectural diversity due to the participation of a large number of architects; from a distance the quarter is reminiscent of a medieval townscape.
Bild: © Staatsarchiv Hamburg / Nicolai Wieckmann
Address: Bei St. Annen 1
The western edge of Block U in a street called Bei St. Annen is marked by a five-storey building that was built between 1902 and 1904 by the architects Hanssen & Meerwein and served as the administrative headquarters of the HHLA, the Hamburg Logistics and Transportation Company. Its incorporation of Neo-Renaissance but also late-Gothic features, as well as its tall clock tower, set it apart from other buildings in the Speicherstadt. Reminiscent of town hall architecture of that period, the building owes its sobriquet to its function as well as this similarity.
Block E (1885–1888)
Address: Brook 9
The extensively preserved area of the first phase of construction is 600 metres long; it is bounded on its western side by the street Kehrwiedersteg and at its eastern end by the street Kannengiesserort and Neuerwegsbrücke. A particularly impressive element of this complex is Block E, situated between Sandbrücke and the small street Kibbelsteg. The block’s northwestern, diagonally angled corner facing Brooksbrücke is further highlighted by an additional storey with a projecting balcony and a high gable embellished with a heraldic crest. The first and second floors are accentuated with ribbons of green glazed bricks. This section of the building was intended as office space, as is evident from the large windows.
Bild: © Staatsarchiv Hamburg
Blocks P and Q/R (1891–1896)
Address: Kannengiesserort 7
The second phase of construction comprises no more than Blocks P and Q/R. The warehouses Q/R were built not with the usual steeply pitched roofs but with flat roofs, allowing eight instead of, as elsewhere, six storeys to be incorporated. Block P, situated on the northern perimeter of the Wandrahmfleet canal, was damaged in the war and rebuilt in close adherence to the original structure. The gabled face on the eastern side was designed by Werner Kallmorgen, who used debris from the bombed ruins to integrate post-war modernist forms, while the façade as a whole blends in harmoniously with the adjacent buildings.
Block V (1899–1927)
Address: Brooktorkai 13
The third phase of construction extends from the street Bei St. Annen to the eastern-most point of the Speicherstadt. It consists of the Speicher S to X, as well as the Feuerwache, the Windenwärterhaus and the four former St. Annen customs offices and the former Ericus customs office. Block V is distinguished by its unusual design: the red brick façades are elaborately subdivided by horizontal ribbons of green bricks and Neo-Gothic blind arches in pale sandstone. Its façade elevations are enlivened by diverse window forms. The western-most entrance is highlighted by Art Nouveau-style features.
Opened in 1888, the steel Bogenbrücke was one of the main points of access into the newly built Speicherstadt, whose sole purpose was the storage of goods. Prior to that Hamburg merchants’ houses had integrated trading offices, living quarters and warehouse under one roof, as is still visible in the historic Deichstrasse, located not far from the bridge and now the last surviving ensemble of town houses from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The original gateway buildings flanking the Brooksbrücke bridge and its sculpted ornaments were destroyed in World War II. The bridge is now embellished with sculptures by Jörg Plickat representing Europe, Hammonia (Hamburg’s patron goddess), St. Ansgar and Barbarossa (2001–2006).
(IG Speicherstadt, HafenCity, Hamburg Tourismus und Hamburg Marketing Gesellschaft)