The Saturn building is an existing five-level department store in the centre of Hamburg, on one of Germany’s busiest shopping streets. It forms the central entrance gateway into the city from the main train station located opposite. Built in the early 1960s, the existing store is a typical example of post-war modernist department stores whose ceramic façades have now reached the end of their life due to long-term frost damage.

Project Details +

Project Details

LOCATION: Hamburg, Germany
CLIENT: Metro Properties
DATE: 2011 – 2013
SIZE: 6,000m² façade area
STATUS: Schematic Design 

Credits +


ACME: Julia Cano, Stefano Dal Piva, Marc Dufour-Feronce, Friedrich Ludewig, Jan Saggau, Heidrun Schuhmann, Keigo Yoshida

Hamburg is a brick-built city, originating in the medieval houses of the seafaring Hanseatic traders and continuing until the early-20th century’s Kontorhaus Quarter, when harbour and trade expanded explosively. Brick is a very versatile material, and regional styles such as Brick Expressionism have left behind a wealth of local brick buildings of world renown.

Given the building’s proximity to some of the most outstanding examples of 20th century brick architecture, ACME have worked with the brick manufacturer Keller to create a new brick façade inspired by the city’s century-old brick tradition. The façade is corrugated to create a self-stabilising wall with the minimum amount of material – a 25m-tall brick wall with a depth of one standard 90mm brick, varying as needed to create areas of transparency and for ventilation. The façade is designed to be assembled by robot, using epoxy bonding in place of mortar. Savings in construction complexity, material, weight and labour will make the new façade highly economical, efficient and sustainable.

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