Golden Buoy By Logan hanson

Golden Buoy

​By Logan Hanson


A vertical building-extension is primarily a means to further densification: more space, more people, and more urbanity. But it can also be used as a tool for adding specificity. For making things noticeable that otherwise would vanish from the city. Thus, it can emphasize the overlooked, make pioneers visible and raises awareness on the less popular parts of the urban fabric.

In Germany, the city of Hamburg faces a major change within that urban fabric. The HafenCity, one of Europe's largest harbour conversion projects, conquers what has been industrial wasteland and drastically redefines Hamburg’s downtown area. When the HafenCity is finished, it will stretch out to the eastern part of the city that has until now been widely overlooked. While property prices and rents downtown areas on the west side of the city are increasing in price by the minute, rents on the east side remain affordable.

The critical point of contact between the HafenCity and the east side of the city will be the at the so called „Elbbrücken“ (Elbe bridges). This area is situated only a few minutes from Hamburg’s main station, but neither the less crowded with infrastructure and deserted by pedestrians. 120.000 cars pass the bridge on a week day on their way into the city, tourists and commuters alike.

Literally in between lanes lies the so called “Mercedes Haus”. Built in the 1920s it used to house car workshops from the pioneering car manufacturer and later became one of the more paradoxical buildings of the city: Whilst basically being the most prominent – or at least: the first - address of the city, it is also an unloved left over of s building, unusually positioned between motorway-lanes and barely noticed. A bit too small, a bit too shy, a bit too grey.

On the upside, rents are affordable and floor plans extremely versatile. Consequently the eight story building is inhabited by young start ups, emerging artists and creative pioneers. At an exceptionally strange place it perfectly represents the potential of Hamburg’s east side with its industrial structures and low rents. On the border of the eastern frontier, the “Mercedes Haus” is already a creative melting-pot.

Its solid foundation, both programmatically and structurally, is predestined to become the new landmark for the emerging neighbourhoods in the east. Using timber to add more space in the form of versatile lofts to live and work in, it not only adds to the existing creative synergy within the house, but also presents these pioneering thoughts to the thousands passing by every day.

Using timber for construction seems a perfect choice for this specific object. It maximizes the ability to add space to a building, which has nowhere to expand despite paradoxically not being situated in a dense area. The old structure, laid out for heavy machinery, can easily sustain 10 stories or more, by doubling the space that is currently available. At the same time, by keeping the structural concept simple, the versatility of the old is transferred to the new. Every element is laid out to serve multiple purposes without prescribing specific usage. Preparing it for whatever change comes next.

City Above the City architecture competition

Plan B : City Above the City architecture competition 

Metsä Wood challenged architects and students around the world to push the boundaries of modern wood building design in the urban environment. Entrants from 40 countries created their Plan B to urbanisation using wood (Kerto® LVL – laminated veneer lumber) as the main material. The task was to design a wooden extension to an existing urban building. The entries were designed to 69 cities worldwide.

Explore the designs