Unilever Headquarters / Behnisch Architekten

© Adam Mørk
© Adam Mørk

Architects: Behnisch Architekten
Location: Hamburg,
Client: HOCHTIEF Projektentwicklung
Project Area: 38,000 sqm
Competition year: 2006
Project year: 2007–2009
Photographs: Adam Mørk

© Adam Mørk © Adam Mørk © Adam Mørk © Adam Mørk

site plan
site plan

The new Unilever headquarter building for Germany, Austria and Switzerland is located right by the river Elbe 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. Here Unilever’s new building opens itself up to the city and its inhabitants. The central element and heart of the design is the generous atrium, flooded by daylight, which, on the ground floor, gives passers-by the opportunity to get to know the company better while browsing in the shop stocked with Unilever products, sitting in the cafe or relaxing in the spa. The atrium is also the central location for people to meet and communicate.

© Adam Mørk
© Adam Mørk

As in a city, bridges, ramps and steps connect central spaces with each other. Here people can meet, talk and enjoy the inspiring ambiance. Vibrant and communicative interaction evolves, thereby fostering a feeling of togetherness among the employees. The workplace is no longer a separate department. The building itself reinforces the identity of the company.

© Adam Mørk
© Adam Mørk

The building follows the principles of holistic, sustainable architecture. While implementing technologies that help save resources, the energy concept adheres to the principle of avoiding technical solutions wherever possible. The office area is cooled by means of thermally activated reinforced concrete ceilings. A single-layer film facade placed in front of the building’s insulation glazing protects the daylight-optimized blinds from strong wind and other weather influences. The building’s primary energy consumption during operation will be under 100 kWh/a sqm. 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 70% more efficient than conventional halogen or metal halide lighting. The Unilever building received the newly established HafenCity EcoLabel in gold.

Cite: "Unilever Headquarters / Behnisch Architekten" 25 Nov 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 May 2015. <http://www.archdaily.com/?p=41761>
  • http://lamahange.nl Robin

    It reminds me of a ship. Which seems very appropriate, considering its location.

  • http://www.archdaily.com David Basulto

    Nice to have lunch in the central space… then a little nap under the sun in front of the water :)

  • scarpasez

    That would be a rather pleasant place to work.

  • http://www.edoconstruction.com EDO

    please visit EDO’s new site.


    Thank you

  • George

    The facades look like soap bubbles, which is nice for Unilever. The inside’s a bit full on. You wouldn’t want to be coming in with a hangover.

  • Ill

    I find this project is lovely: the large void, enclosed by windows and offices and not the usual (?) corridor > which does make it look like a facade , the expression of lightness in the facade, the large amount of light inside, the green, the wood and the white. Grats.

  • Zdepski

    Hey Brian, I’m not really sure if this project can fit in Prague… maybe try the next one.

    • plots

      the unilever building is in hamburg..

  • Pingback: ArchDaily Building of the Year Awards 2009: The Finalists | ArchDaily

  • Cat Leccia

    Nice post :)
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  • http://cyworld.com/nicery JI’S

    Is this really sustainable?


  • menna 3fifi

    it is a wonderfull posts…i like it.