A Pearl of Clinker Culture
The Chilehaus is a Kontorhaus built from 1922 to 1924 in Hamburg's Kontorhaus district. Fritz Höger's architecture was exemplary for the brick expressionism of the 1920s, which was inspired by brick gothic and expressionism.
When talking or thinking about Hamburg’s Kontorhaus District, the Chilehaus on Burchardplatz inevitably comes to mind, as it is more representative of this area than any other building. One might even think that the Kontorhaus block, built in 1922-1924 by Fritz Höger on commission for Henry Brarens Sloman, is better known and more famous than the neighbourhood in which it stands.
With, but not only because of its striking lace, which is also reminiscent of a ship’s bow thanks to the Andean condor designed as a figurehead on the ground floor, Chilehaus is indisputably the landmark of the Kontorhaus district. This predestined position is impressively demonstrated and reinforced by an environment completely tailored to it.
The Chilehaus looks the way it looks, because it is supposed to fill exactly this role. With up to ten storeys, it is not only the highest building in this area, but also offers the largest gross floor area with 36,000m².
Chilehaus has been a listed building since 1983 and was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2015 together with the Kontorhaus district.
The Chilehaus in Figures
The Chilehaus was completed on 1 April 1924. 4,000 craftsmen were involved in the construction. On a base area of 5,950 square metres, the building rises on 18,000 running metres of driven piles with a total usable area of 36,000 square metres. The excavated earth amounted to 20,000 cubic metres; 750 freight cars of cement, 30,000 cubic metres of gravel, 1,600 tonnes of round iron, 900,000 hollow ceiling bricks, 4.8 million bricks and 3.5 kilometres of zinc sheet gutters were used. Fifteen kilometres of pipelines ran through the building, and 2,800 windows provide light for the offices.
Why is the building named Chilehaus?
The client was shipowner Henry B. Sloman, who had acquired his fortune by trading in saltpetre from Chile. In Hamburg it was customary to give the Kontor buildings names.
Who was Henry Brarens Sloman?
Henry Brarens Sloman (* 28 August 1848 in Kingston upon Hull; † 24 October 1931 in Hamburg) was a British-German entrepreneur and private banker. After finishing an apprenticeship as a locksmith, Sloman decided to emigrate to Chile in 1869. After 22 years as an employee, Sloman went into business for himself in Chile in 1892 with the saltpetre factory “Gute Hoffnung” in Tocopilla. In 1898 he returned to Hamburg as a rich man. In 1924 Sloman founded the Finanzbank AG.
Did architect Fritz Höger build any other buildings in the Kontorhausviertel?
In addition to the Chilehaus, Fritz Höger (* 12 June 1877 in Bekenreihe near Elmshorn; † 21 June 1949 in Bad Segeberg) planned the Sprinkenhof together with Hans Gerson (* 19 March 1881 in Magdeburg; † 14 October 1931 in Hamburg) and Oskar Gerson (* 11 July 1886 in Magdeburg; † 25 December 1966 in Berkeley, California).
Was the Chilehaus damaged during the Second World War?
Yes, there was a bomb hit on the fifth floor, which you can still see today if you look closely. Fortunately, the building remained otherwise unscathed. Far worse was the Speicherstadt, which was largely destroyed.
How is the building used today?
Which areas of the Chilehaus can be visited?
The building is generally not open to the public, but is used as an office building. Information about Chilehaus can be found locally at the World Heritage Info Point.
Do you offer guided tours?
Guided tours are offered by the Hamburg tour guides. For further information please contact the Speicherstadtmuseum or Hamburg Tourismus. The building is open to the public on the day of the open monument. Union Investment organizes guided tours on this day.