The wonderful water house
Sustainable, individual yet blending in perfectly with the ensemble: this is the description given to the “water house” to be built by KCAP on Hamburg’s waterfront. It will be a future-oriented residential tower that will provide the HafenCity with another example of stimulating architecture.
Hamburg’s HafenCity district is a veritable paradise for architecture enthusiasts. It was begun 20 years ago and is still the largest inner-city urban development project in Europe. The district features exquisite buildings like the Elbphilharmonie, Spiegel Verlagshaus and Unilever complex. Not to mention projects like the Null-Emissionshaus, the highest timber building in Germany and the We-House, where vegetables are grown on the roof. In fact, the HafenCity is to serve as a model district for green building. And the new addition by Dutch office KCAP – the sustainable water house – is a perfect fit.
One of three towers
The Starfish project – named because of its shape – is one of three “water houses” being built on Hamburg’s waterfront. Or, to be more precise, in the Baakenhafen quarter, which is part of the master plan developed for the HafenCity by KCAP and German office ASTOC. It is the only building here to be located right next to the water, but that’s not all that is captivating about it.
The three towers are being built next to one another, with the same height and on the same base area in a prominent location. Together with the competition brief, this makes each water house into a kind of “architectural balancing act”. This is because the new ensemble needs to fit with Petersenkai and neighbouring HafenCity landmarks like the concert hall, while still retaining the individual architectural identity of each of the three new buildings.
Complex design brief
As architect and KCAP founder Kees Christiaanse put it: “The individual design for each tower requires a subtle yet recognizable architectural articulation.” A total of 14 participants were invited to three parallel workshop procedures by three clients. The design produced by KCAP together with K+H was chosen for the most westerly of the three sites. The winning team also included Transsolar KlimaEngineering, PML Lange and WTM Engineers. Project developer LIP is commissioning the Starfish water house.
The new residential tower will have an excellent view of the Überseequartier with the Cruise Terminal, Lohsepark, Elbe and the Baakenhafen quarter in the east. Its floor plan consists of a polygon of straight lines and is surrounded by balconies with rounded edges. Apart from the entry levels and penthouse, each floor adheres to the same basic design. This makes the water house look lean and sculptural, but still subtle.
Water house in a starfish form
K+H partner Christian Herbert explains what is behind the extravagant “starfish” form: “The layout is the result of thorough research. It warrants a fine-drawn architectural articulation, an efficient, sustainable building structure, and a maximum of panoramic views for each flat.”
The façade design is classy and subtle too, with the balconies nestled around the building like sculptural rings. These form an interesting outer shell: the water house always looks different depending on which angle you are looking at it from. The alternating floor-to-ceiling windows and solid panels provide an attractive vertical contrast to the horizontal lines of the balconies.
Style and comfort
The base is surrounded by water and has an entrance deck around it, which is reached by a covered bridge. In keeping with the concept, the base shell is decorated with a wave pattern and starfish relief.
An inviting concept
Inside, a two-storey entrance hall provides access to a range of additional functions. These include, for instance, an indoor play area with access to the projected patio deck. There are apartments on the waterside of the ground floor.
The upper storeys consist of apartments of various sizes and floor plans. However, what they all have in common is a structure made up of a predominantly public and a largely private zone. As well as this, all residential areas have projecting balconies and are designed to make the most of the stunning view. The penthouse, which “crowns” the water house, extends over two floors. The recesses in the roof create spacious patios that also shape the silhouette of the building.
Focus on sustainability
KCAP and K+H’s climate and energy concept includes a broad mix of measures, including natural and location-specific ones that render the new building more sustainable. In the entire water house, customized solutions are being used for ventilation, cooling and solar shading – all of which adapt to the location, time of day and time of year.
It also takes into account that energy requirements vary seasonally. This is achieved by means of an innovative storage system that offsets surplus heat in the summer and deficits in the winter.
The photovoltaic modules installed on the roof supply power, while timber construction helps to minimize the carbon footprint and optimize energy needs. Concrete is only used where there is no viable alternative. With their water house, KCAP and K+H are aiming to offer maximum quality of life with minimum energy consumption. The floor plan, balcony shape and highly efficient thermal shell all play a key role here.
New HafenCity attraction
Future users can look forward to a modern and comfortable home in a prime location with a private outside area and plenty of natural daylight. And with KCAP and K+H’s water house, the HafenCity adds yet another architectural gem to the list. One that not only provides a view of Hamburg’s skyline but also of the future of urban living.
that might interest you
One of the world’s most spectacular timber engineering projects was recently completed in Sweden. Built for Stockholm’s Tekniska Museet, the Wisdome is a free-form structure using 20 kilometres of laminated veneer lumber. The design uses this kind of wood in an entirely new way.
Canadian celebrity chef and internet star Matty Matheson teamed up with architect Omar Gandhi to create a restaurant landscape consisting entirely of wood, from top to bottom. There is little sign of rustic, folkloristic romance here, though.
Completed in Gothenburg and made of wood, Nodi was named business building of the year 2021. It is another prestigious timber construction in the portfolio of White Arkitekter, the architects responsible for timber high-rise Sara Kulturhus in Skellefteå.
Jernbanebyen is being developed right in the centre of Copenhagen, based on plans drawn up by Danish architectural office Cobe. Formerly a railroad yard, the area is being transformed into an innovative green district. It will be partially car-free, with repurposed listed buildings and lots of new ideas for improving the quality of life.
Dense, green forests are often synonymous with calm, nature and unspoiled landscapes – but they also need care and attention. Such forestry operations can inspire interesting architecture, as shown by the Forest Administration Lodge in Czechia.
The teams at Berlin Waste Management are out and about day in day out, keeping Germany’s capital city looking good and ensuring resources remain in the cycle. Their new headquarters in Südkreuz have the same aspirations and are a prime example of sustainable ideas.
Their pioneering timber high-rise gained international recognition for the architects at White Arkitekter. Researcher and architect Jonas Runberger explains why computational design processes are so important for reaching climate goals.
Its facade is made from recycled aluminium, and the load-bearing structure follows a hybrid timber design. Named i8, this office building in Munich’s Werksviertel is committed to decarbonization and forms a link with the neighbourhood’s industrial past.
Marc Koehler and ANA Architects have joined forces to build the Netherlands’ most sustainable and affordable timber mid-range residential complex, with its own tiny forest. The name of this visionary project in the Amsterdam district of IJburg? Robin Wood.
Rising energy prices won’t affect people who live in Atri, a building designed by Swedish provider Naturvillan. They will be wholly self-sufficient with solar energy, home-grown vegetables and a water treatment plant.
Situated on the Danish island of Bornholm, the Green Solution House hotel features smart rooms and real-time energy and resource monitoring. The hotel designed by 3XN/GXN has raised the bar with its climate-positive timber wing.
Sustainability is reaching new heights for the new design of Dock A at Zurich Airport. In the design competition organized by Flughafen Zurich AG, the jury selected “Raumfachwerk”, a project submitted by BIG, HOK and 10:8 Architekten consisting primarily of timber.
The filling station of the future will be not just fossil-free, green and clean, but also a place where motorway travellers can relax and recuperate. With this in mind, a modular, ultra-fast charging station built with timber has been designed by Danish architectural studio Cobe.
The Grid is a special kind of building that has been designed for Amsterdam by Dutch firm KCAP. Recently completed, this apartment block looks as if it were made entirely of balconies. And that’s by no means all that makes it such a liveable home.
The first five-storey hotel in mass timber design is located in Zillertal, Austria, created by celebrated Italian architect Matteo Thun. It is no coincidence that one of the leading players in structural timber construction is based only a stone’s throw away.
Stefano Boeri is regarded as a pioneer of biodiverse architecture. The Torre dei Cedri planned for the outskirts of Lausanne will be another of his spectacular towers. This time, the vertical forest will consist of over 80 trees.
A special kind of discovery world is taking shape in Gothenburg, where Swedish vehicle manufacturer Volvo is using timber construction and nature to create its World of Volvo. The components and engineering for Henning Larsen’s design are being provided by Austrian firm Wiehag.
Danish architects 3XN are operating a separate division called GXN that develops green innovations. In this interview, Kim Herforth Nielsen and Kåre Poulsgaard talk about behavioural design, carbon as a market driver, and their radical high-rise project in Sydney.
As Dusseldorf’s Theodor Heuss Bridge needs a complete overhaul, the team at RKW Architektur + put their heads together – and produced a spectacular new design. It is literally packed with potential.
The town of Jessheim is getting an impressive new centre. Designed by Norwegian firm Mad arkitekter, it promises to combine sustainable urban development with attractive indoor and outdoor areas.
The Kajstaden Tall Timber Building in Sweden marks the beginning of a new generation of mass timber blocks. Using this building material saves around 500 tonnes of CO₂, and it also facilitates deconstruction later on.
There’s a rocket preparing to launch in Switzerland. The residential timber high-rise named Rocket in Winterthur’s Lokstadt neighbourhood will reach a height of 100 metres. The tower’s residents will be part of the 2000-watt society.
May we introduce Carl? Using timber for its facade besides the supporting structure, the apartment block is currently under construction in Pforzheim. Architect Peter W. Schmidt explains how this is being done.
Who wouldn’t want to play a part in designing their own neighbourhood? The future residents of the pioneering Floating Gardens project get to do this. The new, sustainable complex in Amsterdam not only has a school, but also sets out to teach others what sustainable living is all about.
Kautokeino skole in northern Norway is a project that seeks to embrace the uniqueness of Sami culture and educational style. The mass wood building is so hygge, you’ll want to check in for a few nights.
Canada’s megaproject Waterfront Toronto includes a new district called Quayside, an all-electric and climate-neutral community. Its highlights are a two-acre urban forest and the residential Timber House by architect David Adjaye.
The city of San Diego in Southern California has plans for a new district, one that will be entirely void of cars. Known as Neighborhood Next, it must be one of the most radical projects in the USA.
The new urban quarter Zwhatt near Zurich is designed to enable climate-neutral living at affordable prices. One of its buildings is a 75-metre-high timber hybrid tower known as Redwood, whose facade generates solar power.
Timber construction can be decidedly high-tech, as illustrated by the head office built for SR Bank in Stavanger, Norway. Bjergsted Financial Park offers workplaces that are fit for the future, and it is among Europe’s largest engineered timber buildings.
HafenCity Hamburg is an urban quarter fit for the future. Its eco cherry on the top is the “Null-Emissionshaus” (Zero Emissions Building), which is completely carbon-neutral – and can be dismantled like a Lego house.
Researchers at Cambridge University are helping to turn London’s spectacular vision of a wooden skyscraper into reality. The Oakwood Timber Tower is to rise 300 metres into the sky, almost level with the tallest building in the city.
What used to be a single-purpose neighbourhood is being transformed into a versatile motor of urban progress: Eindhoven is turning its railway station district in Fellenoord into a buzzing new area where all kinds of innovations are set to flourish.
The eco-friendly residential project Roots will be the new landmark of Hamburg’s HafenCity and the tallest timber high-rise in Germany. Architect Jan Störmer reveals what its future residents will have in common.
The Danish office 3XN is planning to build North America’s tallest timber office building in Toronto. Called T3 Bayside, the complex will offer more than 500,000 sq. ft. of next-generation office space when completed.
Oslo was once built entirely of wood. The project chosen to redesign the area around its railway station heralds the return of this traditional building material to the Scandinavian metropolis. A spectacular office tower with an innovative hub is being developed, named Fjordporten.
Dutch architectural firm Gaaga has designed a residential building in Eindhoven that is distinctly people- and environment-friendly. Surrounded by trees, it is situated in the middle of a park.
An office building is being constructed in Madrid that even does some work itself: generating solar power. More power than it actually needs.
A woodland of man-made and native trees has sprung up in Shanghai, named Solar Trees Marketplace. It even generates its own solar power.
Japanese architect Kengo Kuma and Australian artist Geoff Nees teamed up to design the Botanical Pavilion – a wooden pavilion that is constructed like a 3D puzzle – without using any kind of glue or screws.
Japanese architectural firm UENOA has created a wooden office that has no need for bearing walls. Folded origami-style, the ceiling construction gives a whole new lightness to cross-laminated timber.
In 2021, IKEA will open its most innovative furniture store to date in Vienna. Designed by querkraft architects, the city store will bring cooling greenery to the Westbahnhof neighbourhood. For climate protection, against climate change – and GREENPASS Platinum-certified.
There is a new building taking shape in New Orleans that fits perfectly with two very pressing issues: the new Ochsner Center for Innovation will be devoted to developing modern healthcare solutions. The project, which has already won numerous awards, is geared wholly towards sustainability.
A good four years ago, OXO Architectes and Sou Fujimoto embarked on an adventure called Mille Arbres – a mega-project with a plant biotope over Paris’s famous Périphérique ring road.
Sustainability is a top priority for the Powerhouse Company. In an interview, partner Stefan Prins explains why this means more than just a careful choice of materials and energy efficiency, and how essential it is to consider all the changes brought about by climate change when building.
EU President Ursula von der Leyen wants to put climate neutrality centre stage. The first official related project is called Sunflower House and is based on the internal workings of sunflowers.
The Life Cycle Tower One was the first timber high-rise in Austria and the prototype for a new type of serial construction. CREE founder Hubert Rhomberg explains the green building concept and why we have to learn to think in lifecycles.
Milan’s iconic but disused Pirellino office building is to be renovated in spectacular style and renamed Pirelli 39. Its special greenery will even adapt its colours to the passing seasons…
Most people looking for a new home with a sustainable design need to have deep pockets. Rotterdam’s Pendrecht district aims to buck this trend courtesy of timber building Valckensteyn, the brainchild of the architects at Powerhouse Company.
In Düsseldorf, The Cradle is gradually taking shape. The timber hybrid office building is being constructed according to circular economy principles, and these will also govern its future use.
The Dutch city of Eindhoven will soon be home to the world’s highest “plyscraper”. The two towers – 100 and 130 metres high and known as the Dutch Mountains – are to set new standards in high-rise timber construction.
Workplace ahoy! Architecture studio Powerhouse Company has designed a concept for a floating office building. Sustainable, energy-neutral and made of wood, it will serve as the headquarters for the Global Center on Adaptation in Rotterdam as of autumn 2020.
A mixed-use project in Sweden’s Gothenburg is being crowned by star architect Dorte Mandrup. The jewel in this crown is its use of timber. The new eco construction is intended to become an icon in sustainable urban architecture.
Following an initial defeat by the authorities, in the second leg Zaha Hadid Architects managed to gain planning permission for the world’s first timber football stadium.
The ancient Romans used to bathe in healing waters here, and aristocrats from all over the world came to socialize during the Belle Époque. The historic baths in France’s thermal spa resort Aix-les-Bains are now on course for new fame: eco-architect Vincent Callebaut is turning them into a green paradise.
Once Europe’s largest freight station, Brussels’ monumental Gare Maritime is now the largest European CLT project. Neutelings Riedijk Architects have transformed the historic structure into a covered district, giving it a sustainable new lease of life using cross-laminated timber.