Falkenried Quartier

Falkenried Quartier in Hamburg, Germany by Bolles + Wilson

For its 1999 masterplan of the Quartier district of Hamburg Eppendorf, Bolles + Wilson preserved a set of bus and tram sheds and workshops, actually using them as a template for the masterplan. The architects explain that "The principles of the Masterplan were the 'loftising' of one workshop shed, a brick administration building...grows into penthouses and bus garage doors which envelope row houses." Combined with new office and residential buildings, the masterplan is a mix of building types, scales, and spaces.

Looking at a plan of the site, the regular and orthogonal nature of the existing buildings gives way to diagonals that act as a counterpoint while also responding to its context. The tension that arises from the angling of one building to its neighbor is used to full effect, apparent in the image at left. The steps lead to a wide space that pinches to a slight gap that draws the pedestrian to the unknown spaces only partially revealed beyond. Opting for a parallel grouping of buildings would have eliminated the interest and mystery of moving through these urban spaces.

This image at left shows the continuation of the outdoor space described on the previous page. In addition to the interest created via diagonal plans, the architects varied the building exteriors, due to the presence of different building types but also as a deterrent to homogeneity. Some much-needed consistency, though, is achieved through the use of "Hamburg solid-turf fired brick", an industrial-like, variegated masonry exterior that's fitting for its site.

Comparing this development to other designs by the prolific firm - most well known for the amazing Munster City Library and the recent New Luxor Theatre - the Quartier is a restrained effort that injects their signature asymmetry into the creation of outdoor spaces rather than the buildings themselves. The occasional cantilevered sections do recall their adventurous buildings, but they are tempered by the regularity of openings and the even consistency of the brick facades. But perhaps it is the size and scale of the undertaking that toned down the architect's colorful hand, limiting it to the occasional interior rather than the exterior spaces.


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