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Gruner + Jahr Headquarter

Our proposal is for an elegantly articulated contemporary brick building, a new urban block for Gruner + Jahr publishing house headquarter on a site located in the new HafenCity between the new Lohsepark, the canals and a major railway line. A crucial aspect of the idea is to open up the introverted massing of the typical office block, to democratise its spatial organisation, to express the inner life of Gruner + Jahr.

We proposed a sequence of publicly accessible courtyards, landscaped spaces that link the public and semi-public functions. Recessed terraces, transparent bridges, daylit staircases, indoor and outdoor social spaces modify the perception of the office building.

Gruner + Jahr, Am Lohsepark, HafenCity
HIH Projektentwicklung GmbH for Gruner + Jahr
53°32'39.3"N 10°00'16.9"E
  • Die ganze Stadt. Hamburger Wettbewerbe und Verfahren 2027-2023
    Hamburg, Germany, 22 June - 14 July
An open HafenCity block, a contemporary office building inspired by the Hamburg context

Our scheme sets out to democratically extend the civic realm into the courtyards of the Gruner +Jahr HQ and also to project the inner workings of Gruner + Jahr back out onto the street elevations. The spatial arrangement creates a graduated hierarchy of entry, a series of civic threshold spaces from the park through to the courts and gardens of the scheme. The design invites the city in and celebrates the creative activity to the world outside.

We looked at the first principles of the urban composition of the project, determined to de-monumentalise the expression, to open up the corners, to step the skyline and vary the massing of the urban block.

We wanted to emphasise the open and sociable expression of the architectural design. We wanted to make a lively building, a strong building with a friendly personality. It is an open office building, ready for work, a civic building, inviting social participation.

The building has been designed to fit into its setting, between the park, river and railway. Each façade responds to its particular context. The railway facing elevation folds and unfolds, designed to be seen at the speed of a passing train. The river and park facing façades are further articulated, bending slightly inwards, dividing the long elevations into smaller crescents. They relate to the slower speed of the pedestrian and cyclist. The south façade makes a friendly face to its residential neighbour. It steps out to define a public stairway leading into the raised courtyard.

The mass is broken down so the building is legible on a number of scales. At the scale of the City and the River the gentle indents of the façade cast shadows and catch the light, breaking up the mass of this large building. At this scale, you are aware of the tall arcaded base, the opened up and newly articulated vertical corners and the recessed upper levels. The building steps down to the south, changing parapet levels to relate to scale of the adjacent housing scheme.

The brick form relates to this former industrial setting and creates a distinctive silhouette within its new urban context. The landscaping around the building is simple, linking public functions to the new parkland. Barriers to movement across the public realm are kept to a minimum. Priority is given to pedestrians and cyclists. The building is flexing in response to the context and as a result gathering places are created along the public pavement, spaces to meet and interact.

As you approach you become aware of the intermediate scale, large openings draw you into the courtyard spaces, vertical cuts sub-divide the overall volume, and recesses in the façade articulate the communal activities within. At street level, the building has a human scale. The north-western archway opens onto the courtyard and the river, giving a meeting space between Gruner + Jahr and the city. The south-western archway has been likewise opened up, turning the corner and identifying public entry points to rentable offices and exhibition spaces.

The harbour city of Hamburg is characterised by brick warehouses, civic structures, monolithic in form, many with elegantly articulated facades. Early twentieth century landmark office buildings, large complexes like the Chilehaus and Messberghof, are organised around open courtyard spaces. Corners are marked with strongly expressed architectural elements. These special corners create satisfying moments of pause in the rhythm of the street architecture. Courtyards are accessed through open archways, breaking down the boundaries between public and private, making in-between zones for social interaction and well-being. Taken together, these buildings constitute a permeable public realm, distinctive to Hamburg, an urban continuity which reflects the outward-looking tradition of the port city. Our intention is to continue this tradition, to situate the building within the urban placemaking of the HafenCity.

The large open archway on the northwest corner announces the entrance to Gruner + Jahr. This entrance is visible approaching from the City centre and from across the Lohespark. A public courtyard creates a distinctive entrance, a welcoming space at the heart of the block, where the city and Gruner + Jahr interact. The foyer opens onto this landscaped courtyard.

The ground floor contains a mix of Gruner + Jahr and public spaces, including the foyer, café, food courts, retail, conference and exhibition space, all directly accessible from street level. The life of the city permeates to the mezzanine courtyard and first floor garden level. The ground floor arcade is open and transparent, inviting you in to explore the public functions.

Ground to first floors contain public and semi-public functions, fluidly interconnected with each other. At second floor, Gruner + Jahr staff reach their own space, exclusive to them. From this level, they can move horizontally and access spaces anywhere in the building, through steps, lifts and daylit bridges with views back over the courtyards. The bridges are lively, inhabited spaces, places to stop and chat with friends and colleagues. They bring you to communal meeting points, acting as threshold spaces to each home zone.

Recessed balconies for each home zone create spaces for shared project rooms or lounge spaces. These open out onto a terrace or balcony on alternate levels. Raised courtyard, terraces, and roof gardens make a series of edible gardens. These spaces can provide the herbs, salad leaves and edible flowers for use in the Gruner + Jahr experimental kitchen.

The structure is set out to allow maximum flexibility so a myriad of office layouts is possible. The only fixed elements in the plans are the cores. The corners contain lifts and escape stairs. The WC cores are located at entry points to offices. All areas outside these functionally fixed cores can be rented to separate organizations and easily reconfigured for their needs. The flexible plan works for open plan, as cellular offices or as a combination of the two.

The design is a contemporary and conceptual response to the characteristic urban conditions. It embodies the ethos of Gruner + Jahr and is sympathetic with the aspirations for a lively building, an innovative and welcoming workplace, a place to engage and interact with the city of Hamburg.

This is a practical project with a poetic purpose.


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