area 126 | hamburg

architect: Andreas Heller Architects & Designers

location: Hamburg

year: 2011

“Wasserkunst Elbinsel Kaltehofe” is a Hamburg Wasserwerke (Hamburg Waterworks) project initiated by the nature conservation organisation Schutzgemeinschaft Deutscher Wald (SDW) and part of the development and ecological Agenda 21 process. On the grounds of the former Kaltehofe Waterworks Andreas Heller Architects & Designers have created an ensemble featuring industrial heritage, a museum of local history and hydraulic engineering, and a nature path.
The overall design concept, based on the topic “waterworks”, focuses on the significance of Kaltehofe as a cultural-historical industrial heritage site. Architecture, exhibition design and landscaping all reflect the history of this site. A new building was carefully added to the historical building to create a combination that undeniably evokes quality. During redevelopment and conversion the historic villa which dates back to 1894 was preserved to the greatest possible extent.
The new building, although a contrast to the villa, is unobtrusive. The concept provided a sustainable solution for preserving the use of the Elbe island while meeting the needs of the residents as well as the requirements of nature conservation.
The exhibition features a tunnel which connects the historic villa to the new building which presents the conception of waterworks in a raised façade structure of precast concrete elements. Both the façade and the interior design of the building block provide an abstract interpretation of the motif of cascading water. The building is surrounded by an expanse of water resembling a fountain. The interior acts as a multifunctional exhibition and presentation space and is an integral part of the exhibition concept. In various presentations of water and examples of historic fountains in Hamburg visitors learn what exactly waterworks can entail. The careful architecture and landscaping do justice to the sustainable approach of the overall project. Geothermal energy is used for the building‘s energy supply and a reed bed was built on the grounds for waste treatment. The natural surfaces of the landscaped gardens were not sealed. The landscape design ties in with the baroque design of the earlier site while acting as an intentional contrast to the wild nature bordering the complex. The nature path makes visitors very aware of this contrast and plainly shows man‘s intervention with nature.
The Elbe island Kaltehofe has been developed into a local recreation area close to Hamburg. The ecological nature path designed by Andreas Heller Architects & Designers for the island reflects Hamburg‘s title of Green Capital 2011: the flora and fauna on Kaltehofe are one-of-a-kind in the Hamburg urban area. Some 281 native species of plants were counted there, and 44 species of birds alone nest there during the breeding season. The gradual silting-up of the water basins and the conversion of industrial plants into an ecologically useful natural park are unique throughout Europe. Visitors will discover this and much more when strolling along the nature path.