Haus im Haus, Benisch Architecten, hamburg, chamber of commerce, green renovation, LED lights, adaptive reuse

Benisch Architecten won 1st prize in an architecture competition to design a renovation for the historic Handelskamer, which serves as Hamburg’s Chamber of Commerce. Originally, the plan was to insert a large 3-story module inside the large hall, but Benisch Architecten’s plan called for a taller 5-story insert that would have a smaller footprint to exploit the hall’s height and accentuate the space. Haus im Haus provides 1,000 square meters of additional space that includes a business start-up center, consultation rooms, exhibition space and meeting room facilities for members, guests and visitors. The uppermost level affords access to generous roof terraces and beautiful views out over the roofs of Hamburg through a band of arched clerestory windows.

Haus im Haus is more of a functional sculpture within the building than a renovation. The light and translucent materials contrast with the historic hall’s ponderous stone bulk. Each floor seems to float above the rest, making the addition seem like an airy staircase to the heavens. (This impression is reinforced by an arched ceiling painted with stars.) The new addition is matched to the rest of the building, and a number of entrances and exits interweave into the building to improve circulation. Square LED modules are inserted into the ceilings throughout the new structure. Haus im Haus is said to be the first structure in the world lit by LEDs. The project was completed in 2007 and has since received a number of awards, including the 2008 Building of the Year award presented by the Architekten- und Ingenieurverein Hamburg e.V. and a 2012 WAN Adaptive Re-Use Award.

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Images ©Jürgen Landes