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.
No textbook on 20th century architecture is complete without the Chilehaus, which was built between 1922 and 1924 by Fritz Höger and is regarded as an icon of architectural expressionism. Its significance as such derives from both the characteristic detailing of its brick façades and its striking shape – the way it spans Fischertwiete; its curved, S-shaped façade on the Meßberg side; and, above all, its eastern tip, which recalls the prow of a ship.
Furthermore, by exploiting the construction possibilities offered by reinforced concrete, and combining them with traditional brickwork, Höger developed in the Chilehaus a modern, ground-breaking building structure. With virtually unsurpassable virtuoso design and craftsmanship, he created a modern style of brick office-building architecture, the like of which the world had never seen.
Höger achieved this by using both the marked mirroring and reflective effect of the irregularly fired clinker bricks and the tightly packed sequence of the pillars, required by the internal floor plan, for the artistic design of the façades. Inside, the building provided flexibility with the division of floor space, vital for a modern rented office building, and could therefore be adapted to the needs of different users. In oblique view, the tightly packed sequence of pillars gives the impression of a calm, apparently windowless expanse of wall, which heightens the monumental feel of the building. The brick piers protruding from the façade at a 45°-angle follow their own internal rhythm, with the rotation of every seventh layer of bricks, so that when closely observed from an angle a diagonal pattern can be seen on the wall of pillars.
In addition to its artistic wall design of the building with facade decorations of the sculptor Richard Kuöhl is provided , which also created the terracotta features of representative entrance areas and stairwells.
Text: Dr. Agnes Seemann, Projektleitung Welterbe, Denkmalschutzamt Hamburg
Creation of the Kontorhaus district & Speicherstadt district
Im 19. Jahrhundert begann sich die Globalisierung der Wirtschaft und des Handels zu intensivieren, gefördert durch die Idee des Wirtschaftsliberalismus und den Kolonialismus, begünstigt ebenfalls durch die Industrialisierung, durch neue Techniken, durch eine sowohl umfangreichere als auch arbeitsteilige Produktion sowie schnellere Transportmöglichkeiten. Diese Entwicklung zog nicht nur große Auswirkungen auf die Weltwirtschaft nach sich, sie bewirkte unter anderem auch einen städtebaulichen Wandel in den Hafen- und Handelsstädten der Welt.
Deutschland profitierte in besonderem Maße von den Entwicklungen, denn es stieg in nur vier Jahrzehnten, von der Reichsgründung 1871 bis zum Ersten Weltkrieg, zur zweitgrößten Industrienation der Welt nach den USA auf. Gleichzeitig verzehnfachte sich die Beförderungsleistung der deutschen Handelsschifffahrt auf den Weltmeeren. Ein entscheidender Grund für diese Entwicklung war unter anderem die enorme Erhöhung der Transportkapazitäten beziehungsweise die Steigerung der Transportgeschwindigkeit. Der Ausbau der Eisenbahnlinien und der Häfen sowie der Aufschwung im Schiffbau, hier insbesondere der Bau neuer Dampfschiffe, trugen dazu bei.
Als Hafen- und Handelsstadt hatte Hamburg einen wesentlichen Anteil an dieser Entwicklung. Dank des vorausschauenden Handelns der Verantwortlichen der Stadt konnte sie nicht nur ihre Vorrangstellung in Deutschland mit weitem Abstand behaupten, sondern entwickelte sich auch zum bedeutendsten Hafen in Kontinentaleuropa. Einen wichtigen Impuls gab die vollständige Eingliederung der Stadt in den Deutschen Zollverein 1888 und die damit verbundene Erweiterung und Modernisierung des Hafens, in deren Rahmen auch die Speicherstadt entstand. Innerhalb von nur zwei Jahrzehnten rückte Hamburg nun in die Spitzengruppe der Welthäfen auf, sodass schließlich nur noch in London und New York mehr Güter umgeschlagen wurden als an der Norderelbe.
Der Beitritt Hamburgs zum Deutschen Zollverein hatte den Bau der Speicherstadt zur Folge, eine Entwicklung, die nicht nur zum Abbruch der Häuser eines gesamten Stadtteils und der Vertreibung von über 16.000 Menschen führte, sondern auch die in Hamburg tradierte Lebensform, Wohnen, Wirtschaften und Kontor unter einem Dach zu vereinigen, auflöste. Dies zog eine Trennung der drei Bereiche nach sich, die schon mit dem Umzug des Bürgertums in die neuen Villengebiete an der Außenalster um 1850 begonnen hatte und in der Folgezeit zur Schaffung von monofunktionalen Dienstleistungsvierteln führte.
Text: Dr. Agnes Seemann, Projektleitung Welterbe, Denkmalschutzamt Hamburg
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.