Philharmonious ... by Uta Abendroth | 4th March, 2016 | Prime Properties
The River Elbe, the ships, Europe’s second largest container port – they’re all around here. Nowhere in Hamburg is home life quite as spectacular as in the ‘Elbphilharmonie’, the city’s iconic new landmark designed by architects Herzog & de Meuron. 15 floors of the building play host to remarkable apartments, now up for sale. One of which is graced with the signature style of Kate Hume.
Never before has there been a property in Hamburg quite like this one. This claim is no exaggeration. The ‘Elbphilharmonie’ is a confluence of the city’s past and its future ahead. The apartments in the west of the HafenCity district afford views over the container terminals in the port stretching as far as the Lüneburg Heath, over the meandering Elbe River, and the entire cityscape towards the Alster lake in the distance. Hamburg’s iconic new landmark is absolutely spectacular. The Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron have incorporated the outer walls of the historic warehouse known as ‘Kaispeicher A’ into their design. Originally built in 1875, the brick construction occupies a prime plot of land jutting out into the Elbe between the ‘Sandtorhafen’ and ‘Grasbrookhafen’ docks. Destroyed in the Second World War and later demolished, it was replaced in 1963 by a second ‘Kaispeicher A’ in the same position. And it is on this foundation that the new building now rises up.
“I took a close look at Hamburg’s colour palette and incorporated them here in the apartment.” Kate Hume
The façade is composed of separate sheets of glass, many of which are slightly curved. Each of the approx. 2,200 panels has been embossed with an individual dot matrix for both sun protection and aesthetic reasons. According to the architects, this results in an appearance akin to a crystal, reflecting the sky, the water and the city in ever-new ways. In between the red brick construction and the new glazed building on top with concert halls at its heart and “The Westin Hamburg” hotel along its eastern elevation, is the so-called plaza – a fully glazed visitor platform spanning some 4,000 square metres, reached by escalator. Housed in the western tip, the 44 apartments located on floors 11 to 26 are quite separate from the public spaces in the building, opening up a fabulous enclosed world to residents stretching from 50 to 110 metres above sea level. This makes the ‘Elbphilharmonie’ the highest inhabitable building in the whole city. The interior design of the apartments, which range from approx. 120 to 400 square metres in size, is the work of the architect Antonio Citterio. Born and based in Milan, Citterio is no stranger to Hamburg having conceived several buildings before along the port’s waterfront and in the HafenCity quarter. His visual vocabulary is elegant, his designs timeless.
Elegant understatement and visual restraint form the central themes that pervade Citterio’s interiors inside the ‘Elbphilharmonie’ apartments. Floors, for example, are laid with oak, while natural stone in various colours adorns the bathrooms. The largest of the apartments, on the 18th floor, has been furnished by Kate Hume. The British designer runs an acclaimed studio in Amsterdam. She has made a global name for herself with her interior designs, which form a harmonious mix of relaxed minimalism and expressive details. Her first impressions of the ‘Elbphilharmonie’: “The panorama dominates everything. But I didn’t want the interior to be subordinate to the views and end up with just another bland, beige feel to the place,” she says. “I took a close look at Hamburg’s colour palette. The eye is particularly drawn to the green of the rooftops, and the blue of the water. I was determined to incorporate these nuances into the apartment, to make that connection between the inside and outside. I find that cobalt blue and grey work very well with these colours.”
“My inspiration? It’s all in my head. I have a sense for what will suit a particular ambience.” Kate Hume
Kate Hume has a very keen sense of colour and texture, reflecting her background in fashion design. She has a degree from the renowned Central Saint Martin’s College of Art and Design in London, and went on to work as a stylist in the 1980s at New York’s luxury department store Bergdorf Goodman. She herself says her approach to furnishing homes is the same approach as when she dresses herself: she goes into great detail and that certain something is always in the mix at the end. Now Kate Hume has created an inimitable melange inside the ‘Elbphilharmonie’. She has placed her own creative stamp on Citterio’s more restrained style: “I didn’t change anything about the open plan layout,” she says. “The only aspect we altered was adding sliding panels between the hallway and dining room and between the bedroom and dressing closet. This way you don’t see everything straight away as you enter. It allows you to bring about a little more privacy in these large spaces.” In addition, she had curtains hung up along certain sections of the 30-metre window fronts. “It is, of course, wonderful to be standing at your kitchen worktop and see all the boats on the river, just as though you were watching television. Even so, you don’t want this all the time. And, when closed, the drapes make the apartment just that little bit cosier.”
“The outlook is overwhelming, and even right up here the urban atmosphere is tangible.” Kate Hume
The apartment furnished by Kate Hume has an almost trapeze-shaped interior, with views facing south, west and north. The kitchen lies at the centre, and feels almost as though it is floating in the middle of the river. It can be closed off from the living and dining areas respectively, thanks to two glass sliding doors. This main open plan kitchen gives onto a smaller kitchenette and utility space, accessible from the hallway just across from the entrance. Alongside the dining room to the south is a guest wing consisting of a bedroom and bathroom. The living room is divided into three spaces. A bluish violet carpet forms a living island with two large curved sofas, in the far northwest corner of the apartment there is a workspace, and opposite this are two sumptuous armchairs for watching television. This rather more public part of the apartment leads to a hallway, separated by a doorway, and into the completely north-facing wing of the apartment. The master bedroom can be found here complete with a dressing room and bathroom, a walk-in closet and a home gym with a sauna. All overlooking another symbolic landmark in Hamburg: the tower of the ‘Michel’ church.
It goes without saying that state-of-the-art technology for regulating the climate, temperature and light is matter of course here. Just like the ‘integrated’ balconies. These loggias, with their extravagant balustrades reminiscent of tuning forks, allow residents to sit outside in absolute privacy. The glass panels have a layer to protect against the light and wind. They frame the view too. “From up here,” says Kate Hume, “with the city lights and the comings-and-goings of the port, Hamburg’s marvellously urbane atmosphere comes to life.” UA
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