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In October 2008, LAN won first prize in an international competition for design and building organized by IBA Hamburg 2013, an international construction exposition first held in 1901.
A neighborhood in Hamburg was chosen as the intervention site: Wilhelmsburg, where the project is located. The first competition phase was to design a development that would then become a Bebauungsplan (the equivalent of a PLU, or development plan, in France).
This housing design, which occurred within a unique framework – IBA Hamburg 2013 – draws on Hamburg’s architectural heritage by providing a contemporary, updated version of the traditional Terrasse, a “row-house” type of worker housing. The first challenge in conceiving our master plan was how to integrate cars into the Terrasse, especially how to limit their impact and place in the public spaces. To do so, we scaled the width of the street a minima (6 meters of the 13 meters between the buildings facing each other) and we made its pathway as slender as possible to slow down traffic and to give the center a vegetation-oriented feel. e covered parking spaces were grouped at the corners of the buildings in order to create a direct and necessary relationship between the ground floors and the public spaces. The enclosures separating the private spaces facing the street were removed, and all the green spaces received the same treatment so that the local residents could truly appropriate them.
Two public spaces run through this area, tying the street to its surrounding environment, which consists of a park, a brook, and a pond. In designing the housing models, we opted for U-shaped volumes in order to increase the intimacy of the yards and to accentuate the connection with the park located to the east.
Through its creation of interiorities and angles, the new housing block defines three kinds of socialization: public, by facing the street, collective, with yards shared and maintained by the residents, and private, by means of the yards and terraces bordering the apartments. The themes of the individual home, the car, the definition and prioritization of public and collective spaces, as well as environmental quality, have here been reinvented in order to produce a new, sustainable urban model.
During this project, LAN dealt with two successive commissioning entities: IBA Hamburg 2013 for the urban planning phase, and then the residents themselves, via the Baugruppe, for the architectural phase. e direct result of this change in principals was the multiplication of the number of clients and, therefore, interlocutors: from 1 to 80 persons.
How does one manage the complexity inherent to such an increase?
How does one work at the neighborhood level, with the 80 members of the Baugruppe, and in terms of each individual habitation, on each of the 33 residences?
How does one adapt one’s approach and working documents to clients whose knowledge of architecture is extremely disparate?
The architectural phase seemed to be both an impossible task, because the intentions of the various Baugruppe members were contradictory and created clear divisions, and at the same time, an exercise in fostering architectural awareness, where pedagogy and diplomacy were both de rigueur.
Theme & Variations in Typology
One of the architectural project’s ambitions was to adapt the residences to the current and future needs of the families. We also wanted to combine the advantages of the Terrasse and the “rowhouse,” between a homogeneity of the whole and by asserting singularity. The way we shaped and configured the space yielded a vocabulary that gave each building its own identity while at the same time preserving the harmony of the whole of the four housing blocks entrusted to LAN.
Due to their U-shaped configuration, the housing blocks have a central courtyard consisting of individual terraces bordering the residences, and a central green space landscaped according to the residents’ preferences. The composition of the façades changes depending on their placement. Facing the street, narrow glass doors create a consistent rhythm, and facing the courtyard, three large picture windows, stacked one on top of the other, provide ample views and exposure to sunlight.
The wooden siding changes from one block to the next; there are variations in the direction and size of the wood planks. Similarly, the color changes in the window and door frames and the coping in aluminum, as well as for the awnings.
The parking spaces located at the corners are fully integrated into the buildings. The absence of enclosures and a similar treatment for the yards facing the street allows them to blend into the landscaped public spaces, which thereby creates the sensation of a large, continuous pathway.
Each housing block has 6-10 residences. The buildings also contain individual storage rooms and a common space that hosts the Baugruppe’s communal activities (general meetings, parties, arts and crafts workshops, etc.), and welcomes visitors.
Within the blocks, the 33 housing units are of two kinds: “row-house” and “multi-level” units. e 13 “multi-level” units occupy 1 or 2 levels, and are 50-90 m² in size. They each have direct access to either a garden with a terrace, or to a loggia. The ground floor residences are fully accessible and usable by persons with reduced mobility. e 20 row-houses have three floors and a private yard with a terrace facing the street and one facing the courtyard. Their orientation and surface area vary depending on their positioning within the block: east-west or north-south, between 120 and 160 m².
Workspaces have been integrated into the housing at the residents’ request; there are offices, graphic design studios, therapy rooms, and so forth. Other spatial elements, such as a hopper between the ground and first floors, the positioning of the stairwell, the entry into the kitchen, the number of bedrooms and bathrooms were chosen by the residents.
In conclusion, the variations in the constructions, the programs, surfaces, and the material finishings reveal the potential of the typology that was created, and they bear witness to its wealth. e neighborhood has remained very consistent in terms of its architectural vocabulary, and yet, each residence is unique.
Location: Hamburg, Germany
Program: masterplan with 33 housing units
Site Area: 1,2 hectares
Net Plan Area – Master Plan: appr. 11,000m², or appr. 100 housing units
Net Plan Area – Architecture: 3,500m²
Client: IBA Hamburg 2013 (competition, masterplan), Neue Hamburger Terrassen GmbH (housing)
Architects: LAN Architecture – www.lan-paris.com
Team: Franck Boutté Consultants (HEQ – competition), BASE (landscaping – competition), Raissi
Bidard (competition), Konerding Architekten (associated architect for the building process), Ingenieurbüro Schreyer (BET structure, energy), RMP Stephan Lenzen (coordinating landscape architects)
Photos: Julien Lanoo
Text & Drawings: LAN Architecture