On 20 November 2008 - a year after its completion - David Chipperfield Architects’ Empire Riverside Hotel received a first prize in the 2008 BDA Hamburg Architektur Awards.
The four star hotel and a retail and office building in Hamburg, St. Pauli is part of a 110,000 sq m housing and office development on the former Bavaria brewery grounds. The extraordinary nature and history of the Bavaria grounds - overlooking the river Elbe - inspired the research for this project. Its exclusive position as the largest industrial workplace within Hamburg’s inner city area requires particular consideration, situated as it is between two highly divergent city areas: Hamburg’s inner city, represented by its prominent townhouses, trade and institutional buildings to the east and St. Pauli’s small scale 19th century buildings to the west and north.
The site can be regarded as an urban vacuum where new development needs to take up a mediating role between the different urban situations, which are now being placed in a new relationship with one another. In contrast to the previous introverted nature of the industrial site, the design of the hotel complex and the ”Brauhaus” - a retail and office building - attempts to create both programmatic and architectural references to the neighbouring surroundings. Thus, the 20-storey hotel complex consists of different staggered volumes, where the height of each volume corresponds with the eaves of the surrounding buildings. The base of the complex with its new public square refers both in space and content - restaurants, bars, shops and conference area - to the nature of the St. Pauli neighbourhood, the hotel tower with its 328 hotel rooms rises above the city, creating a new visual landmark for Hamburg’s skyline. From the direction of the water it appears as a slim, vertical volume, fitting into the topography of the famous “Hafenkrone”, the crown of the harbour, a series of impressive turn-of-the-century buildings and church spires along the embankment of the river Elbe.
The glass-bronze façade is structured using prefabricated elements, which emphasise the vertical. It covers the buildings as a homogenous layer, unifying the different volumes and providing a subtle backdrop for the neighbouring architecture.
From 90 applications, the BDA Hamburg Architektur Awards jury awarded three first prizes, three second prizes, seven third prizes, and 31 commendations.