Germany, Hamburg 

Elbkai House


Consultancy 1992
Design Volkwin Marg    
Partner Klaus Staratzke
Project leaders Angelika Juppien, Susan Krause
Project Team Gerlinde Venschott, Elke Hoffmeister, Iris van Hülst, Dagmar Winter, Marc Ziemons, Heike Ryll
Client GHL III – ein Unternehmen der HHLA-Gruppe
Construction period 1998–1999
Gross floor area 12,720 m²



Gerhard Aumer

Juergen Schmidt

[email protected]

Klaus Frahm

The Elbkaihaus with its wide glass front towards the River Elbe has been a multi-storey cold storage built in 1965, its original core building structure being removed. This conversion in the fishing harbour of Hamburg-Altona was completed in 1999 and now offers office space with incredible views to the Elbe for young computer firms.

The 130 m long building, situated parallel to the Elbe along the quay wall has been divided into five houses, each accessible via a staircase and lift. On the 1st and 2nd floor a steel-glass façade is suspended across the complete length of the hall, offering  all offices a generous view towards the Elbe and harbour. An open, light and transparent ambience is characteristic of the newly constructed gallery levels. Daylight enters through glazed walls into all work areas. The flexible structure of the office building allows for an interior division into rental units of various sizes.

The walls of the circulation cores, painted in bright red act as an ele-gant contrast to the black window bands and the dark, seemingly light-weight steel staircases. The authentic mushroom headcolumns, finished with a transparent lacquer and their original grey tone refer to the reinforced concrete framework inside the building. This concrete skeleton construction along with the structure of the building have to a great extent been maintained during the conversion. The original roof construction has been removed. As the Elbeside columns once supported the  load of five half-gantry cranes in one double-T-section, the upper levels of the building are therefore suspended from beams. These have been exposed during conversion.  A prominent symbol of the Elbkaihaus are two restored half-gantry-cranes, each 30 metres high and weighing 71 tons. They correspond to the three white loading balconies on the water-side of the Elbkaihaus and are reminiscent of the maritime tradition of the converted cold store and fish auction hall.