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Sustainable construction with and on water

WaterHouses - Living at Inselpark

IBA Hamburg /Johannes Arlt WaterHouses - Ansicht, Bild: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Bernadette Grimmenstein WaterHouses Ansicht, Bild: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Bernadette Grimmenstein WaterHouses - Blick auf die "TriPlex Houses", Bild: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Bernadette Grimmenstein WaterHouses - die "TriPlex Houses", Bild: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Bernadette Grimmenstein WaterHouses - Ansicht, Bild: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Bernadette Grimmenstein


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Cities and Climate Change
/fileadmin/Projekte/S20_IBA_DOCK/IBA_DOCK_wasser1_teaserH.jpg The metropolis moves onto water


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Cities and Climate Change
/fileadmin/Projekte/S13_Energieverbund_Mitte/214energieverbund.jpg A virtual power station - in the network of synergies

Integrated Energy Network Wilhelmsburg Central

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In no other German city is water so much a part of local identity as it is in Hamburg. Previously, water as a living environment, in the form of houseboats or houses on stilts, was limited to just a few specific properties in the city. Living on the water therefore tends to be associated with a certain lifestyle, as a form of individual expression, and for many it represents a particular attitude towards life. However, housing projects in areas dominated by water have long ceased to be a vision of the future; they have actually taken shape on the Elbe islands in the form of the WaterHouses. These five buildings demonstrate how water locations can be used as residential areas, while taking environmental concerns and residents’ safety into account.

The WaterHouses were built on piles in a water retention basin with a surface area of about 4,000 square metres, that has been integrated into the existing waterways network. The basin is fed with rainwater and is located in an area of Wilhelmsburg Central that is at risk from flooding and groundwater.

The WaterHouses, designed by Schenk + Waiblinger Architekten from Hamburg and built by HOCHTIEF Solutions AG formart Hamburg, were completed by March 2013. The complex consists of four TriPlex Houses with three separate, three-floored apartments each, and the nine-floored WaterTower, which contains twenty-two apartments. Each of the apartments has a balcony or terrace overlooking the water. Each apartment in the TriPlex Houses has its own “natural” or water terrace with large glazed panels, while the residents of the WaterTowers have access to a spacious common water terrace area. The connection with the water is palpable throughout the whole complex: there are boat jetties, floating terraces, underwater gardens, and water walls as privacy shields, all of which emphasise the special quality of life on the water.

The Importance of Water in the Energy Concept

The buildings are constructed to passive house standard. That means that they require a minimum of heating and all of their energy needs can be met using renewables. A geothermal heat pump uses the water to heat the houses, while solar thermal elements in the façades ensure the provision of a basic hot water supply. The WaterHouses are also linked up to the Wilhelmsburg Central Energy Network. Smart building technologies control the ventilation and the energy supply, and give the residents feedback on their energy consumption. The German Society for Sustainable Building, the DGNB, awarded the WaterHouses their gold certificate in recognition of the high standard of building. (German Sustainable Building Council).

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Am Inselpark 10,12,14,16,18
21109 Hamburg

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Beginning of construction:
June 2011

March 2013

Project costs:
approx. 11 Mio. Euro

Property size:
6,700 sqm

Gross floor area:
4,640 sqm

WaterTower: 9
Triplex Houses: 3

Residential units:
WaterTower: 22
TriPlex houses: 12

Size of residential units:
60 – 130 square metres

Energy standard:
Passive house standard

Energy supply:
Integrated Energy Network Wilhelmsburg Central, geothermal heat pump system as well as solar thermal elements in the facades


DGNB-Certificate in Gold



Schenk + Waiblinger Architects, Hamburg