New Spiegel Building Hamburg - The window to the City

Spiegel Building

Project facts
Location : Brooktorkai, HafenCity, Hamburg, Germany
Client : Robert Vogel & Co.
User : Spiegel Group
Gross floor area : 50,000 m²
Year of construction : 2008 - 2011
Architects : Henning Larsen Architects and Höhler+Partner
Landscape : WES & Partner Landschaftsarchitekten
Engineers : Ingenieurbüro Dr. Binnewies, DS-Plan and ISR Schlegel und Reuβwig
Façade builder : Schindler Fenster & Fassadenbau GmbH, Roding
Glass processor : Interpane Belgern
Light Design : Kardorff Ingenieure
Photo credit : Cordelia Ewerth and Andreas Gehrke

The new Spiegel headquarters and the neighboring office complex, the Ericus-Contor, a fourteen and nine-storey building pair, expand the gallery of internationally recognized architectural works in Hamburg. The publisher's headquarters and office block, two impressive examples of glass architecture, stand together on the same brick base. The buildings, nestled in the Ericusspitze, with their irregular trapezoidal ground plan, were designed by the Danish firm Henning Larsen Architects. Seen from the north side, the 61-metre-high Spiegel editorial building looks like a window on the town and lets the viewer see deep inside. The glass shell can be used for multimedia projections; it is also part of the reason for the building's outstanding energy balance. ipasol neutral 68/37 solar control glass and iplus E thermal insulation glass from Interpane ensure that the rooms are flooded with daylight, without overheating in the summer sun or losing heat on cold days.


"Location, location and location" The Ericus Quarter is a prime waterfront setting near Hamburg's "Docklands" the "Speicherstadt" just minutes on foot from the city centre and the central station. Visitors appreciate its maritime flair and the sight of the old façades around the Brooktor port. Here, at the north eastern entrance to the "Harbour City", the headquarters of the Spiegel Group and the Ericus-Contor which emerge out of a common brick base have an unbeatable panoramic view of the port.

Structural Design

Henning Larsen Architects has chosen a two-part composition to create hierarchy and openness on the site and has integrated the complex urban spaces that meet at Ericusspitze in their design. The two buildings are designed as large U-forms that embrace the urban space they are directed towards. The Spiegel building embraces an internal space with a more urban character because of its direction towards the city. The Ericus building embraces an open, green outdoor space as it directed towards the large open Lohsepark.

Harbour City

Spiegel Building Hamburg

The two buildings form two plazas: an arrival plaza for pedestrians, cy-clists and drivers towards Brooktorkai and an open public plaza, which has a direct connection to the waterfront promenade.

With total space of 30,000 square meters, the new Spiegel office building is one of the largest in Hamburg which comprises 13 stories. Its windows are framed with white metal and the glass facades resemble austere grids, but the north side of the building is more open to which the architects call it a "window to the city." Besides these, the building to its inside has an atrium as high as the building itself, flanked by galleries and crossed by nine staircases and four bridges. Here, too, the architects wanted to create an image of networks, transparency and communication.

Outstanding Sustainability

Spiegel Headquarters has been awarded with the prestigious award 'Hafencity Umweltszeichen Gold'. The building is certified with a gold medal in the certification system of HafenCity for meeting the highest sustainability requirements for buildings in Germany. The certificate is awarded for sustainable utilization of energy and public resources, the use of environmental-friendly building materials, the consideration of health and comfort aspects and also for the sustainable construction and operation of the building. The calculated energy consumption of the Spiegel building amounts to only 80 kWh/m2/year.

Energy consumption, sustainable materials and a good indoor climate are the factors that have been carefully examined since the design phase. During the selection of materials and products for the buildings, all of them have been carefully examined and evaluated on the basis of their performance (easy to clean and should not be allergenic) to ensure a good indoor air quality.

Henning Larsen Architects

With its unusual construction, built by façade builders Schindler Fenster & Fassadenbau (Roding), the headquarters plays in the premier league energetically as well as optically. Almost all the façades of the building are covered with triple insulation glass in a beam-and-column construction. On the ground floor, in the highly transparent structural glazing façade of the central part of the building and in the wide roof, ipasol neutral 68/37 solar control glass ensures colour-neutral transparency and an outstanding energy balance. Because of the low total energy transmittance (solar factor = 37% according to EN 410), the rooms behind the glass warm up less, removing the need for exterior shading. Nonetheless, lots of daylight (tV = 68%) reaches them. Light reflection on them is minimal, leading to a particularly colour-neutral appearance and maximum transparency. The light reflection from inside is also minimal, ensuring an outstanding view to the outside, even with the internal lighting turned on. The neighboring Ericus-Contor is protected with iplus E double insulation glazing and ipasol neutral 68/37 solar control glass.

The heating and cooling system is also clever: ground heat exchangers and photovoltaic panels reduce the need for non-regenerative energy; the glass façade is naturally rear ventilated - making classical air-conditioners and radiators unnecessary. Radiant heating and cooling panels on the office ceilings regulate the climate through gentle radiation, improving the sensation of well-being. The whole building is heated and cooled in this environmental-friendly manner, without preventing the manual opening of office windows.


Buffer Zone of Light and Fresh Air

The glass-covered atrium which spans all floors, creates a pillar of light and air surrounded by galleries. Whenever the employees move from office to office, or walk over the many bridges and stairs to another level, they have a clear view of the sky. The architects have succeeded in creating the perfect image of transparency, networking and communication. The colour concept of the interior is marked by white, often removable, wall panels, grey carpeting and lots of natural wood. Only the already almost legendary "colour explosion" of the snack bar from the old building consciously falls outside this mould. The designers shipped this homage to earlier times to the fifth floor: coloured prisms of fabric, wall-mounted and hanging lamps, mainly in bold orange and purple. It is safe to assume that this is the place where new recruits will be introduced to the myths of Spiegel history. An alternative is the cafeteria on the ground floor - with its terrace right by the water.