Querkopf Architekten was tasked to create the new face for Hanse Merkur company in Hamburg. The existing building near the Dammtor train station was an inconsistent 'architectural mix.'
The offices of this traditional company are located in the historic old building 'Haus Wedells,' which consists of a structure from the 90s and a glass atrium. An extended entrance hall was used to create the link between the different eras, while making a dramatic architectural statement.
Architects Wasfy Taha and Fionn Mögel decided to devise the entrance as a sculpture, architecturally merging the 'past' and the 'present' into the 'future.' This is not only reflected in the futuristic design but also use of HI-MACS solid surface material.
The architects deliberately thought 'outside the box' and designed the entrance hall as an expressive continuation of the glass atrium into the urban space. The basic shape of the entrance is a rectangular pavilion with a six meters continuous glass façade and a full glass ceiling stretching over six meters without any supports. There are no pillars inside the structure; steel beams are used to transfer the load to the façade mullions. The construction process was complicated, as an underground car park had to be taken into consideration in the structural analysis.
The powerful aesthetics and optical alignment of the building towards the South-West are achieved with the superimposed HI-MACS roof which looks like a sculpture on top of the glass pavilion. It spreads asymmetrically towards the South-East, in the direction of the entrance, standing out by six metres at an acute westward angle. On the north side, the roof develops into a façade: two diagonally tapering "fingers" reach down to the ground here, creating the "spine" of the building.
"The flying roof offers an overwhelming sense of space. It gives the impression of absolute weightlessness," stated Taha.
This very effect was also achieved with the extended roof of the Hanse Merkur entrance hall. The roof not only makes a lasting visual impression but also has a practical function by providing shade inside the pavilion and protecting the driveway from rain.
The sculpture-like roof consists of a shell made up with 100 solid surface material panels seamlessly attached to a steel and wood substructure. The individual parts are joined to ensure a seamless finish of the structure after its completion, with the exception of drainage and expansion gaps.
The entrance hall with its extraordinary roof provides the link between two very different architectural styles and various outdoor areas in the overall building ensemble. The south side bordering on the old building at a 90 degree angle only reveals the glass façade. It takes a back seat for the benefit of Haus Wedell and even reflects it. At the same time, it opens up the building to the main traffic and visitor stream, offering a view into and out of the building. The north side on the other hand is facing a park and the classical punctuated façade of the 90s structure. "This is the really exciting part of the pavilion," Taha commented. "The protruding and receding peaks and edges of the roof and the down-reaching 'fingers' create an exciting dynamic."
Photography: Dominik Reipka