13.12.2011 Larissa Mihatsch

Floating neighbourhood in Hamburg

Barmbek is booming: as reported in DETAIL issue 12/2011, ten moorings for houseboats were allocated by the City of Hamburg in 2006 in a to-date unique procedure in Germany. In future, cities located close to water or with rivers flowing through them, are to use the water areas for urban development.
The same goes for the Hanseatic city, in which the pilot project 'Living and working on the water' started:  The city held a competition called 'Houseboats on the Eilbek Canal' in which prospective houseboat owners were invited to submit their creative ideas for two of the mooring sites. A selection committee chaired by the architect Jürgen Böge, had the difficult task of choosing 10 winners and 20 potential alternates from over 400 submissions.
The winners of the competition were able to make a dream come true. Utilisation of water areas is not new in Hamburg. What is a novelty however, is the departure from the typical houseboat image and the trend towards ecological and modern living and working on the water.
Nine more houseboats have joined the project of the architect couple, Amelie Rost and Jörg Niederehe, which has already been presented in DETAIL. The winners of the 'Eilbek Canal' pilot project can now be admired at leisure below. The diversity of ideas submitted within the framework of conditions specified for the competition indicates that cities close to the water can surely look forward to an interesting architectural future.
The applicants, the majority of which were architects, could let their ideas run free: in the form of an outer façade made of wood or reflecting aluminium sheets, a former East German working barge converted to a Floating Home.
The 'One-of-One' design, with an area of 135  m², by the architect Thorsten Freier certainly stands out. From the outside, the two-storey houseboat looks like it could have come straight out of a science fiction film, but the atmosphere inside is cosy. This was mainly achieved by using a lot of solid wood as well as entirely untreated materials.
The floating neighbourhood has made the city more attractive and also revitalised the canal. Nine of the ten boats are permanently moored at the moment. More will follow. Permission for 22 new houseboats has been granted in the Hamburg-Mitte district.  Realisation of these dream homes is scheduled for 2012.
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