A compelling blend of old and new
As the owner of Chilehaus in the Kontorhaus district, Union Investment Real Estate GmbH not only holds one of Germany’s most famous heritage-protected buildings in its portfolio, but also one of Hamburg’s most modern office complexes.
Chilehaus is more than just a workplace
Work and leisure come together in this unique urban quarter. The spacious courtyard on the ground floor is home to an attractive range of shops, restaurants and cafés which are popular with tenants of the building and passers-by alike.
With 2,800 windows, the building’s visionary design provides plenty of stunning views. The light-filled rooms can be flexibly arranged for optimum use, giving you the freedom to design your space in Chilehaus entirely as you wish.
Key facts at a glance:
Total area: approx. 30,400 sq m
Retail and storage space: approx. 5,200 sq m
Parking: limited space available in courtyard
Offices: approx. 25,200 sq m
Architecture & history
Chilehaus – a gift to the people of Hamburg and a symbol of the city’s economic revival. Find out more about the architecture and history of this iconic building, which was constructed more than 90 years ago.
A gift to the people of Hamburg
Chilehaus – a symbol of economic revival.
When Henry Brarens Sloman left Hamburg for Chile as a young man, he was virtually penniless. After making his fortune, he returned to Germany at the age of 60 and decided to give something back to his home town. On 21 October 1922, Sloman purchased a 5,000-square-metre site and bought 4.8 million bricks from architects who were suffering the effects of rampant inflation. His plan was to create an extraordinary building that would resemble a passenger ship. Two years later, construction work was finally completed under the direction of distinguished architect Fritz Höger, and Hamburg had a new attraction.
Chilehaus symbolises Hamburg’s economic recovery after World War I and became one of the city’s flagship buildings, along with St Michael’s Church. For over 50 years, this prestigious building has housed companies from a range of sectors. It was acquired by Union Investment Real Estate GmbH (formerly DIFA) in 1993.
This magnificent property in the heart of the city was given protected building status on 27 September 1983 and has since been included on Germany's Tentative List for UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
A building like no other
Prime address meets outstanding architecture.
Chilehaus is a ten-storey office building constructed in the Brick Expressionist style. The huge structure, which has a 5,950-square-metre footprint and offers 36,000 square metres of space, spans Fischertwiete. Its distinctive façades meet to form a prominent tip – the sharpest angle of its type in Europe – that creates the effect of an imposing ship’s prow.
The curved exterior makes the building appear light and graceful despite its size, while the bricks of the carefully crafted clinker façade shimmer in different shades depending on the weather. Chilehaus is especially impressive when it is illuminated at night, shining majestically in all its splendour.
The building has become a popular tourist attraction. Its charming interior details are also well worth discovering, particularly the heritage-listed linoleum floor coverings, the mahogany frame-and-panel doors on the staircases with hand-worked brass handles, and the exquisite ornamentation. Your business partners and customers will undoubtedly appreciate the unique ambience as much as you do.
Creation of the Kontorhaus district & Speicherstadt district
In the 19th century, the globalisation of economies and trade began to gather pace, supported by colonialism and the concept of economic liberalism and boosted by industrialisation, new technologies, more extensive production activity, increased division of labour and faster transportation. Not only did this growth have a huge impact on the global economy, it also brought about an urban transformation in port cities and trading centres around the world.
Germany was a major beneficiary of these developments. In the course of just four decades, from the establishment of the German Empire in 1871 to the start of the First World War, it became the world’s second largest industrialised nation after the US. At the same time, there was a tenfold increase in German commercial shipping operations across the world’s oceans. Massive growth in transport capacity and faster shipping speeds were two of the key factors driving this change. Expansion of the railways and ports, along with an upturn in shipbuilding – in particular the construction of new steamers – were also crucial.
As a port and trading city, Hamburg played a significant part in these developments. Thanks to the forward-looking actions of the city authorities, Hamburg was not only able to maintain its pre-eminent position in Germany, it also emerged as the most important port in continental Europe. Critical stimulus was provided by the full integration of the city into the German Customs Union in 1888 and the subsequent expansion and modernisation of the port, during which time the Speicherstadt warehouse district was created. Within just two decades, Hamburg rose to become one of the most important ports worldwide, with ultimately only London and New York handling more goods.
Hamburg’s accession to the German Customs Union prompted the construction of the Speicherstadt, a development that involved demolition of all the houses in an entire neighbourhood and the displacement of over 16,000 people, thereby bringing to an end the traditional way of life in Hamburg where residential, commercial and office activities had been combined under one roof. The separation of these three aspects ensued, a trend which had already begun when the middle classes started moving into new villa districts near the Außenalster lake around 1850, and subsequently led to the formation of monofunctional districts dominated by the service sector.
Text: Dr. Agnes Seemann, World Heritage Project Manager, Hamburg Monument Conservation Agency
Hamburg's Kontorhaus district
Unique architecture and the city's merchant past have made the Kontorhausviertel famous. It is an impressive symbol of Hamburg's rich history as a port and Hanseatic city. As a consequence, the Kontorhaus District is being nominated for UNESCO World Heritage status.
The people who live and work here value the district's distinctive charm. More than 35 cafés and restaurants and in excess of 700 companies fill this traditional mercantile quarter with life. Featuring a growing variety of specialist stores and both new and established galleries, the Kontorhausviertel has become much more than an insider's tip in the heart of Hamburg.
Take time to discover the area's special features, especially at lunchtime or after work. A weekly market has been held on the central Burchardplatz every Thursday since 2005, providing a convenient opportunity to purchase delicious food for the office or at home.
Text: Dr. Agnes Seemann, World Heritage Project Manager, Hamburg Monument Conservation Agency
Looking back at a special anniversary
Just over 90 years ago, on 1 April 1924, one of the most spectacular office and commercial buildings in Hamburg was completed – Chilehaus. Owner Union Investment, which holds this fascinating building in its UniImmo: Deutschland open-ended real estate fund, staged a celebration to mark the special anniversary.
On 9 April 2014, the biggest birthday cake in Hamburg was presented – a cake in the shape of the Chilehaus building and weighing 400 kg, including 150 kg of sugar, 50 kg of chocolate and 1,600 windows made of marzipan and icing. The cake measured 2.4 m long, 1.2 m wide and 80 cm high. Skilled pastry chefs from NORD EVENT worked hard for many weeks to painstakingly recreate a mini Chilehaus down to the last detail, and delivered a true masterpiece.
Andy Grote, the head of Hamburg-Mitte District Authority, cut the cake together with Dr. Reinhard Kutscher, Chairman of the Management Board of Union Investment Real Estate GmbH. Many of the building’s tenants and people who just happened to be passing by enjoyed a slice of the extraordinary cake in the open air.
The cutting of the cake was also a compelling event for the press:
The official event to celebrate 90 years of Chilehaus was held in the Chilehaus building on the evening of 9 April 2015 and was hosted with charm and wit by the popular well-known NDR presenter Anke Harnack. The Chairman of the Management Board of Union Investment Real Estate GmbH welcomed more than 150 specially invited guests from the worlds of business and politics, as well as many of the building’s tenants. The First Mayor of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz, offered congratulations on behalf of the City of Hamburg and once again emphasised the tremendous importance of Chilehaus and its positive international reputation around the world. The director of Elbphilharmonie Laeiszhalle GmbH also offered congratulations and good wishes. The president of the Association of German Architects, Heiner Farwick, gave a speech praising the work of Fritz Höger, the architect and builder of Chilehaus.
The event was rounded off by a series of conversations with people who knew the building well, including 89-year-old Friedrich Wilhelm Sloman, the grandson of the Chilehaus founder, and 91-year-old Ruth Quensel, who worked in Chilehaus for a long period during the 1950s.
Another event was arranged in conjunction with Hamburg Cultural Foundation to mark the 90th anniversary of Chilehaus – the first-ever Culture Walk around the famous stairways of the Chilehaus building. The event, organised for subscribers of the Hamburger Abendblatt newspaper, was especially impressive thanks to the variety of young artists taking part.
Music was provided by clarinet player Boglárka Pecze and by the string quartet of Hamburg’s youth chamber music initiative. Fly Society impressed the audience with their free running show, while spoken word artist Moritz Neumeier received resounding applause for his poetry slam about himself as a person and a North German.
The previously unknown superb acoustics of the stairways in Chilehaus B were demonstrated to full effect by the Altona chamber choir. The group of over 30 singers touched the audience’s hearts with their melodies.
Shops, restaurants and cafés at a glance
Chilehaus offers a vibrant mix of specialist stores and eateries at street level. Use our location map and search function to find what you’re looking for in Chilehaus.
If you have any questions, please get in touch with Helmut Specker at firstname.lastname@example.org or on +49 40 3491 94242.
Owner and management
Responsible real estate management requires a property owner to keep a close eye on the needs of tenants, the quality of the building and its surroundings, and also on commercial parameters. Accordingly, Union Investment believes that active ownership is the key to success.
Service & contact
Are you interested in choosing Chilehaus to help you achieve your objectives? Do you want to make your ideas reality in the prestigious surroundings of this historic building? Our staff will be delighted to assist you with your requirements.