The subject of housing in Hamburg’s Hafencity has long been left to the free market. It was only a few years ago that the city began to provide for subsidised housing here. One of the first projects in this new era has now been completed by architects BKK-3 (Vienna/Hamburg). The large-scale building contains 136 flats designed for a variety of social strata – a strong sign in favour of more diversity in the city.
In architects BBK-3, the owners have found the perfect partner to carry out their idea to set a counterpoint to the luxury homes otherwise common in Hafencity. BBK-3’s experience in social and community housing in Vienna helped them lend the idea of ‘diverse housing’ a workable structure and a memorable face.
Community housing in Hafencity
A residential building with a dark clinker brick façade and balconies in white, the Wohnvielfalt is only a 10-minute walk away from the famous Elbphilharmonie. It has been designed by architects BBK-3 (Vienna/Hamburg) based on their ample experience in social and community housing in Vienna.
A shared basement harbouring a kindergarten, various retail spaces, delivery points and access to the underground car park carries a six-story residential building with 136 flats. A third of the flats are owned by a construction company, while another near-third include price-reduced (€ 11.10/sqm) as well as subsidised flats (€ 6.30/sqm and € 8.50/sqm) and the rest are rented out at market rates.
What is attractive beside the fact that subsidised and price-reduced flats are available is the location of the building within Hafencity: Grasbrookpark with its children’s playground is just outside the door, adjoined by an underground station a few steps away.
The site on which BBK-3 were commissioned to build is 115 metres long and only 33 metres wide. In order to grant all flats equally good exposure to daylight and attractive views, the architects drafted a block-edge construction with three thoroughly placed cuts, transforming the voluminous shape to a differentiated, sculptural building structure that rather accurately reflects the diversity within. All flats are grouped around a courtyard located above the basement and accessible from the street via two open-air flights of stairs.
In addition to a thorough mix of housing offers, the project has been aimed at supporting the formation of a tenant’s community by creating space. The heart of the building is the courtyard located above the basement. Here, tenants can meet, chat and get to know each other. On the same level, a rec room, studios and office spaces that can be rented by the tenants make sure that the semi-public open space is regularly frequented. This ‘communication level’ allows attractive views onto Grasbrookpark just outside the door. A flight of stairs laterally offset from the cut leads to the courtyard from the street. The construction itself is equally sustainable, having received Hafencity’s highest-ranking eco-label, the Gold Standard.
To acquire property in Hafencity, one needs to apply with a concept. The bidders, a group made up of the Hamburg housing co-operative Hansa, the property company Roggenbuck GbR and the construction company represented by architect Christian Mörker filed a joint application for the property at Grasbrookpark, featuring a concept of ‘diverse housing’. In it, they outlined a residential building designed to include flats of varying price ranges and to thus appeal to various social strata.
In the meantime, the city had abandoned its former policy of favouring the maximum price offer when assigning property. Based to a newly introduced scoring system rating the price at 30% and conceptual ideas (such as social housing) at 70%, the above bidders convinced the city and won. This makes this project one of the first ones to be completed since the city’s change of property tender policy to include non-profit conditions.
BKK-3 is an architectural firm based in Vienna. It is run by founder Franz Sumnitsch and has had a branch in Hamburg since 2012 (Norman Jargstorff, Jan Nieswand). For decades, the firm has erected numerous residential buildings, the best known being Sargfabrik (‘coffin factory’), a community housing project in Vienna derived from the alternative housing movement of the 1980s. Sargfabrik continues to be a very popular place to live and an indispensable gathering point for the entire neighbourhood with its countless social facilities.
BKK-3 builds for people – socially, sustainably and diversely.
The declared goal of our architecture is to look ahead and assume the responsibility associated with planning across generations.
BKK-3 builds with people – fostering participation, interaction and fun.
Satisfaction rates in our residential buildings are above average and based on a thorough understanding of users’ actual needs.
BKK-3 builds for the city – concisely, memorably and inspiringly.
We plan the city of short distances, with reasonable content and innovative ideas for urban design.
Our project is trend-setting for Hamburg in terms of urban development, architecture and social sustainability.
The design plays with the clinker facade of the traditional Hamburg buildings and takes them to a new level by using inclined walls and freely formed structures. This use of clinker bricks is new for the rigid architecture of Hamburg and required the necessary courage from the property developer and the contractors to implement it. Such a dynamic of the otherwise rigid building material together with the sculptural volumes has never been realized in Hamburg before.
Due to the generous openings in the volume, good lighting of all buildings and a free view towards the park for all residents is achieved. The confinement of the block edge structure is torn open and a democratic equivalence of all residential areas is strived for. At the same time, the structure no longer appears massive and repellent but is directed towards the park with an inviting, open gesture.