This eleven-storey residential tower, called the “Oval” is situated on the northern bank of the Kaiserkai in Hamburg‘s new “HafenCity” district. The exposed location of the building offers its residents a spectacular view of downtown Hamburg, the Speicherstadt, the Elbe river and the harbour.
The tower is elliptical in plan and has a ground floor raised five metres above street level on detailed, exposed concrete columns, which are oval in cross section. Following an analysis of the site-specific wind, sound and view conditions, the oval building form was selected. The wave form of the façade and the balconies results from considerations of views, wind and sun altitudes. All 27 units have balconies facing the water; the façades are made of glass and perforated panels. Each floor provides up to three apartments with sizes varying between 60 and 125 sq m. The west façade for the living rooms is open and made of glass, while the east-facing bedrooms have closed façades. The additive façade design makes later recycling easier. Because the floor plate is so slender, daylight penetrates deep into the building from all sides. This, together with the solar collectors, keeps energy consumption down.
The contrast between industrial structures, the historical brick warehouses of the Speicherstadt and modern buildings around the water is enhanced. The “Oval” looms above Kaiserkai and terminates a view corridor from downtown Hamburg to the new district. Like a beacon, the 40 m tall building towers above its lower neighbours. At the same time, it marks the central “Vasco da Gama” Plaza at its foot. A grand staircase leads down to the landing stages of the marina of the “museum harbour” where historical boats and ships are on display.