Germany's tallest wooden high-rise under construction: The roots celebrates topping-out ceremony

Hamburg, 23 August 2023 - Erected from root to crown: GARBE Immobilien-Projekte celebrates "roots completed" in HafenCity in Hamburg. The topping-out ceremony marks an important milestone in the sustainable project development. With its approximately 65-metre-high wooden tower, roots is not only an architectural landmark, but also an important building block for the Hamburg project developer's vision of redensifying the city in a climate-neutral way. The tallest wooden high-rise building under construction in Germany will have 181 residential units, consisting of condominiums and publicly subsidised flats. The Embassy of Wildlife will open on the ground floor and mound level, an interactive exhibition by the German Wildlife Foundation, which will also operate a nature film cinema, a learning workshop and a high-quality restaurant here. Around 85 percent of the condominiums have already been sold. The average price per square metre is 10,000 euros. Letting of the subsidised flats will start in autumn 2023. The investment volume is 140 million euros. Completion of the project, designed by the Hamburg architectural firm Störmer Murphy and Partners, is planned for the first quarter of 2024.


Together with a total of around 400 guests, Monika Thomas, State Councillor of the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing, Dr Andreas Kleinau, Chairman of the Board of HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, Jan Störmer of Störmer Murphy and Partners and Prof. Dr Klaus Hackländer, Chairman of the German Wildlife Foundation, the achievement of a milestone was celebrated on 23 August 2023.

"We are pleased to have come a big step closer to our vision of sustainable project development with this day. Our special thanks go to all the people involved in the construction, who have achieved great things with their commitment over the past two years and have proven with their courage as well as their craftsmanship that it is possible to build upwards with wood and that it is worth breaking new ground," says Tobias Hertwig, Managing Director GARBE Immobilien-Projekte GmbH.

In the roots, a multifaceted and well thought-out mix of residential, work and leisure space is being created: 128 condominiums and 53 publicly subsidised flats with two to five rooms are located on a gross floor area of around 36,200 m2. The future residents will also have access to around 97 underground parking spaces and 500 bicycle parking spaces. The residential use is complemented by a 600 m2 landscaped inner courtyard designed by the renowned landscape architects LOIDL as well as a yoga room with a terrace for the future residents. On the ground floor there is also approx. 540 m2 of catering space with a terrace and loggia for around 200 guests, as well as part of the 2,200 m2 permanent exhibition and the learning workshop of the German Wildlife Foundation. The remaining exhibition space as well as a cinema and event area are located on the terp floor. The multimedia exhibition on nature conservation and species protection brings nature into the city and aims to get visitors excited about native wild animals, convey their fascination and promote their protection. In addition, the offices of the private, non-profit foundation are located on the first and second floors. The handover of the space to the foundation is already planned for December 2023. "With the wildlife embassy in roots, Hamburg's HafenCity is getting a permanent representation for wildlife in Germany. 

The German Wildlife Foundation gives wildlife a voice here and appeals to nature enthusiasts far beyond the borders of Hamburg with the permanent exhibition, the learning workshop and the nature film cinema," says Prof. Dr Klaus Hackländer, Chairman of the German Wildlife Foundation.

Symbiosis of architecture and urbanity meets closeness to nature

Around 5,500 m³ of softwood was used to build the project, which consists of a 65-metre-high wooden tower with 19 storeys and a timber-framed building with seven storeys. Due to the location within a flood zone, the terp floor and the ground floor were built in conventional reinforced concrete construction. From the third floor onwards, the ceilings and walls are also made entirely of wood. The amount of wood needed for the construction grows again in Germany in about 23 minutes.

The roots is a building that harmoniously addresses the tension between advancing urbanisation and the increasing need for a close relationship with nature. The innovative concept is based on the use of wood as the main building material, which is not only sustainable but also creates a link between modern architecture and the natural environment. The architectural design thereby represents a symbiosis of aesthetics, functionality and ecology. 

"Frank Lloyd Wright once said `The best connection between a head and a hand is good timber construction`. This is exactly what I have lived by, what I have believed in all my architectural life. Now, after 60 years, I am ending my architectural career as senior partner of Störmer Murphy and Partners with a high-rise building in timber construction.To tackle this pilot project, we needed a client with a great willingness to innovate.Garbe Immobilien-Projekte GmbH was prepared from the outset to commission an intradisciplinary team with which we were able to coordinate and ensure complete implementation planning before construction began.Störmer Murphy and Partners will build on this experience and lead timber construction into the future," says Jan Störmer, of Störmer Murphy and Partners GbR.

Efficient and innovative solutions for current challenges

Compared to a conventional building, the planning phase of the roots took significantly longer.Using a 1:1 model, the sound and fire protection as well as the handling of weather conditions were planned down to the last detail and innovative detailed solutions were developed. Various tests already confirmed the suitability of the building material as a sustainable and resilient option during the planning phase.

A remarkable feature of the root is its efficient construction method. Whereas conventional construction projects often require a larger number of workers, this project shows that the use of wood and modern construction techniques can reduce this. With only about 200 workers from around 50 different trades on the construction site, the project sends a clear signal for an optimised and targeted way of working, which is particularly valuable in times of a shortage of skilled labour. The assembly of the timber construction on site could be carried out with only 10 carpenters.

Future vision for Hamburg

The roots not only highlights the aesthetic and functional advantages of wood, but also emphasises its ecological significance.  "With the roots, we not only want to create impressive architecture, but also pursue a mission: Our vision is to drive the development of timber houses and to see this type of building established as the standard in 10 years' time.The roots shows that climate-efficient and resource-saving construction is indispensable as a building block for the sustainable redensification of the city," emphasises Fabian von Köppen, Managing Director of GARBE Immobilien-Projekte GmbH. 

Monika Thomas, State Councillor of the Authority for Urban Development and Housing, adds: "This is a very special project and a sign of entrepreneurial and planning courage, which we as the authority have accompanied constructively and imaginatively. GARBE Immobilien-Projekte takes on the complex challenges of sustainable and safe timber construction and sets a record at the same time: At 65 metres high and 19 storeys, Germany's tallest timber high-rise under construction in a prominent location in Hamburg with 181 flats in the future, 53 of which will be publicly subsidised rental flats. I would hope that many more builders will be inspired to build with wood in the future."

"The "roots" with its sophisticated timber construction fits perfectly into the Elbbrücken quarter and its sustainable and experimental character. In addition, the German Wildlife Foundation will enrich the cultural and educational landscape of HafenCity and the whole of Hamburg with its exhibition on the protection of native wildlife and habitats," concludes Dr. Andreas Kleinau, CEO of HafenCity Hamburg GmbH.

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