A Pearl of Clinker Culture
The Chilehaus is a Kontorhaus in Hamburg's Kontorhaus District, built between 1922 and 1924. Fritz Höger's architecture was exemplary for the brick expressionism of the 1920s, which was inspired by brick Gothic and Expressionism.
When talking or thinking about Hamburg’s Kontorhaus District, the Chilehaus on Burchardplatz inevitably comes to mind, as it is more representative of this area than any other building. One might even think that the Kontorhaus block built in 1922-1924 by Fritz Höger for Henry Braren’s Sloman is better known and more famous than the district in which it stands.
With, but not only because of its striking lace, which is also reminiscent of a ship’s bow thanks to the Andean condor designed as a figurehead on the ground floor, Chilehaus is indisputably the landmark of the Kontorhaus district. This predestined position is impressively demonstrated and reinforced by an environment completely tailored to it.
The Chilehaus looks the way it looks, because it is supposed to fill exactly this role. With up to ten storeys, it is not only the highest building in this area, but also offers the largest gross floor area with 36,000m².
Chilehaus has been a listed building since 1983 and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015 together with the Kontorhaus district.
Chilehaus in Figures
The Chilehaus was completed on 1 April 1924. 4,000 craftsmen were involved in the construction. On a floor area of 5,950 square metres, the building rises on 18,000 running metres of driven piles with a total usable area of 36,000 square metres. The excavated earth had amounted to 20,000 cubic metres; 750 goods wagons of cement, 30,000 cubic metres of gravel, 1,600 tons of round iron, 900,000 pieces of hollow ceiling blocks, 4.8 million pieces of bricks and 3.5 kilometres of zinc sheet gutters had been used. 15 kilometres of piping ran through the building and 2,800 windows provide light for the offices.
Why is the building called Chilehaus?
The client was shipowner Henry B. Sloman, who had acquired his fortune by trading in saltpetre from Chile. In Hamburg it was customary to give the Kontorhäuser names.
Who was Henry Brarens Sloman?
Henry Brarens Sloman (* 28 August 1848 in Kingston upon Hull; † 24 October 1931 in Hamburg) was a British-German entrepreneur and private banker. After finishing an apprenticeship as a locksmith, Sloman decided to emigrate to Chile in 1869. After 22 years as an employee, Sloman went into business for himself in Chile in 1892 with the saltpetre factory “Gute Hoffnung” in Tocopilla. In 1898 he returned to Hamburg as a rich man. In 1924 Sloman founded the Finanzbank AG.
Did architect Fritz Höger construct any other buildings in the Kontorhaus District?
In addition to the Chilehaus, Fritz Höger (* 12 June 1877 in Bekenreihe near Elmshorn; † 21 June 1949 in Bad Segeberg) planned the Sprinkenhof together with Hans Gerson (* 19 March 1881 in Magdeburg; † 14 October 1931 in Hamburg) and Oskar Gerson (* 11 July 1886 in Magdeburg; † 25 December 1966 in Berkeley, California).
Was Chilehaus damaged during the Second World War?
Yes, there was a bomb hit on the fifth floor, which you can still see today if you look closely. Fortunately, the building remained otherwise unscathed. Far worse was the Speicherstadt, which was largely destroyed.