by Sarah 03 October 2012
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    Unilever's new headquarter building for Germany, Austria and Switzerland is only a stone's throw from the Cruise Ship Terminal in Hamburg's HafenCity. Here, everything is influenced by the harbour's maritime character.

    The generous Atrium, which, on the ground floor, is accessible to the public, is the heart of the design. The glass roof and transparent facades fill the whole interior with daylight, which is supplemented with a newly developed LED illumination source looking like an art installation.

    The Atrium is a special attraction for all people in the building. Cuts of the external landscape - water, ships, sky or HafenCity, are ever present through the glass facades. Friendly colours give it the atmosphere of being outside, on a summer's day. As in a city, bridges, ramps and steps connect central spaces with each other. Here, people can meet, talk and enjoy the inspiring ambiance. So-called "Meeting Points" encourage informal meetings. The "workspace" is everywhere, and the architectural layout reflects the firm's flat management hierarchy.

    The whole of the ground level functions as a public meeting place, giving the public an opportunity to find out about the company, for example, in the supermarket, which stocks Unilever products. A few steps further on there's a café from which one can look out over the Elbe. Here, where the building opens to the riverside promenade, generous open-air steps entice one to linger. The container ships can be seen as they glide past, leaving waves in their wake to hit the harbour walls.

    The building, which received the HafenCity EcoLabel in gold, follows the idea of holistic, sustainable architecture. While implementing technologies that help save resources, the energy concept adheres to the principle of avoiding technical solutions wherever possible.

    Architect: Behnisch Architekten, Stuttgart - Stefan Behnisch, David Cook, Martin Haas


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