Unilever Headquarters for Germany, Austria and Switzerland, Hamburg, Germany
The new Unilever headquarter building is situated right by the river Elbe, prominently positioned in Hamburg's HafenCity. It marks the end of the route out of the town centre to Hamburg's new attractions: the cruise ship terminal and the promenade on Strandkai. In high density inner city areas, publicly accessible space itself is a valuable resource. This is particularly true in Hamburg as far as the areas by the river Elbe are concerned. The Unilever building opens up large areas to the public, both outside the building and within.
The central element and heart of the building is the generous atrium, flooded by daylight, which offers public amenities at ground floor level. Light streams in through generous glazed surfaces in the roof construction. The roof, which was optimized by means of light simulations, also provides the office areas with sufficient daylight. Near the central access areas around the atrium there are open spaces looking out over the interior expanse – the Meeting Points. These serve as access to the office zones while encompassing central facilities such as copy stations and kitchenettes. The Meeting Points are connected to one another by bridges and walkways. Horizontal and vertical neighbourhoods are created, which are primarily intended for informal encounters. Vibrant and communicative interaction evolves, fostering a feeling of togetherness among the employees.
The Unilever building follows the principles of holistic, sustainable architecture. Its energy concept focuses on avoiding technical solutions, while introducing, where appropriate, technology that helps save resources. Particular attention was paid to the arrangement of the individual levels with respect to capturing a maximum amount of daylight in all areas. The building's high degree of flexibility facilitates the adaptation of use to future requirements; the layout and the arrangement of the individual areas conform to the prerequisites for optimal microclimatic conditions.
It was the users' acceptance of the building that stood at the centre of all considerations. All of those areas with an essential bearing on the use of the building, the atrium in particular, underwent analyses to arrive at the maximum level of comfort in terms of room acoustics and were optimized accordingly. Thanks to manually controllable radiators, manually adjustable blinds and glare protection as well as windows which can also be opened onto the atrium, every employee can influence his or her immediate working environment. A modular system is available for furnishing consisting of a wide range of elements such as stand-up tables, benches, storage spaces, room cells etc., which individual departments can use to put together the office of their choice.
The energy concept comprises active components as well as passive measures. Due to its location right next to the cruise ship terminal, the building is exposed to diesel generator emissions from the ships that lie there at anchor. Therefore, a hybrid system was introduced for ventilation: primary ventilation is provided mechanically via a compressed air floor, whereby the air supply is fed into the office area via a filter system and from there into the atrium. Heat exchangers are located near the roof so that warmth can be recovered and no energy is lost. The office area is cooled by means of thermally activated reinforced concrete ceilings with water flowing through them. In order not to restrict the ceilings' thermal storage capacity with insulating panelling, a floor construction, which was specially designed for this project and which unites properties for both ventilation and acoustics, serves as an absorber surface for room acoustics. A single-layer film facade placed in front of the building's insulation glazing protects the daylight-optimized blinds from wind and other weather influences. Unlike a double facade made of glass, this construction does not require horizontal partitioning as a fire prevention measure. As a result the air-filled space in the facade can be used for window ventilation of the building.
A newly developed SMD-LED system has been deployed both for the building's general lighting and for workplace lighting. This system is up to seventy per cent more efficient than conventional halogen or metal halide lighting. Waterless urinals and a grey water system reduce water consumption. Ecologically optimized building materials were used wherever possible and risks for the environment minimised, whereby any future dismantling and the associated disposal costs were also taken into account.
As a result of the measures described above, the Unilever building has received the newly established HafenCity EcoLabel in gold for building sustainability. The building's primary energy consumption during operation will be under 100 Kwh/a / m2.