Hamburg is traditionally a shipping city. Today its trade and communication is done not so much by sea as by satellite: Hamburg is one of the main centres of the media industry in Germany, a position that the new Multimedia Centre helps to reinforce. This mixed-use complex on the Rothenbaumchausee provides offices and studios for multimedia companies in a block to the north, with proposed sheltered accommodation for elderly people to the south.
The new office block connects with an existing Media Centre via a triple height Media Circus, which also gives access to the housing behind. Shops line the street frontage of the multimedia building, and five office levels are arranged above, focused on an 8-metre-wide atrium that runs the full length of the block. Access to this atrium is via a broad staircase from the Media Circus, which forms a central meeting place. Perimeter offices are naturally ventilated, while those lining the atrium are ventilated with displacement air, introduced through floor outlets.
To optimise energy consumption the relatively clean return air from the offices is used to heat and ventilate the atrium. As all the services are integrated within the raised floor, suspended ceilings are not required; this allows the concrete slabs to contribute to the passive temperature control of the building through their inherent thermal mass; moreover, it creates a generous ceiling height of 3 metres.
A cantilevered louvred roof provides passive solar protection for the atrium, the Media Circus and the upper levels, and terminates in a canopy above the main entrance. The west facade of the office building is protected against solar gain by adjustable glass louvres, operated individually for each office unit. This allows the use of clear glazing, which avoids colour distortions for the media work, and the louvres form a second skin, creating a constantly changing pattern across the facade.