In the centre of Hamburg’s Kontorhaus district sits the imposing Chilehaus (Chile House). It is an icon of German Brick Expressionism, a style that predominated in the 1920s mainly in northern Germany. Built between 1922 and 1924 according to designs by architect Fritz Höger, the office building was one of Hamburg’s first high-rise buildings.
Chilehaus has almost 6,000 square metres of floor space surrounding a spacious inner courtyard and, with 10 storeys, stands 42 metres tall. Despite its large dimensions, the building does not appear particularly massive. This is due, for one thing, to its striking shape, with S-shaped curved façades and an eastern end that is tapered to a point, like the prow of a ship. For another, the upper floors were set back, making the building appear narrower overall.
The building was commissioned by Henry B. Sloman, who, years before, had emigrated to Chile without means and then made his fortune trading in saltpetre. In remembrance of those days, he had the office building named for the country that had made him one of the richest men in Hamburg in his day. After the end of the First World War, Chilehaus became a symbol of Hamburg’s rapid growth as a trading centre, and of the city’s aspirations to rebuild.
In addition to its enormous size and unusual shape, the building is particularly impressive for its richly detailed brick façades. Höger used irregularly fired clinker bricks, whose appearance changes with the time of day and weather conditions, thus giving the building a varied appearance. The interior was also given ceramic decoration and elaborate ornamentation: linoleum floors and mahogany coffered doors with handcrafted brass handles – protected features of the listed interior – make it worthwhile to peek inside.
Chilehaus, together with Hamburg’s Speicherstadt area and the rest of the city’s Kontorhaus district, was added to the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015. The building is currently owned by a publicly traded property fund that leases out the retail and office spaces, which are currently fully let. [KS/DK]
- UNESCO world heritage site
Contact and opening hours
- Weekday : — Uhr
- Weekend : closed
Cancellation of events and temporary closure of museums
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Directions by local public transport:Nächstgelegener Bahnhof der Deutschen Bahn: Hamburg Hauptbahnhof
Nächstgelegene Haltestelle ÖPNV (Bus, Straßenbahn o.ä.): U Messberg
This place is part of the tour:
Experience modernism in the northHamburg
From Altona to Winterhude: its many modernist buildings make Hamburg an extraordinary travel destination.