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Hamburg is Hoping for Recognition as World Heritage of Culture

From 26 June 26 to 8 July 2015, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO is meeting in Bonn. Will Hamburg's warehouse district and Kontorhausviertel be added to the list?

After the recognition of Hamburg‘s wadden sea as a world heritage site of nature, hopes are high in Hamburg to be also honoured as a world heritage of culture with two sites. The German government filed the city‘s application for the recognition of its Speicherstadt and Kontorhaus quarters, including the Chilehaus building, in Paris after more than three years of preparations by Hamburg‘s heritage office. Now, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO will decide on the city’s application during its meeting in Bonn, taking place 26 June to 8 July 2015.

Globally unique Complex

Speicherstadt and neighbouring Kontorhausviertel form a unique complex of warehouse and office building architecture. Built between 1885 and 1927, the 17 warehouses of the Speicherstadt, each seven or eight storeys high, constitute the world’s largest remaining warehouse complex from the late 19th and early 20th century – an urban ensemble of outstanding integrity and quality. The adjacent Kontorhaus district was built to serve the functions arising from creation of the Speicherstadt. Built in the 1920s, it is the first dedicated office district on the European continent. Characterised by a high degree of stylistic consistency, landmark buildings include Messberghof, Sprinkenhof and Chilehaus. Built 1922-1924 by architect Fritz Hoeger in the shape of a ship, Chile House is regarded as the world‘s best example of red brick expressionism.

Federal Secretary of State Inspects Candidate Sites

In preparation for the UNESCO meeting, the current Chairman of the World Heritage Committee and Secretary of State at the Foreign Office, Prof. Dr. Maria Böhmer, visited the two candidate sites in the company of Hamburg’s First Mayor Olaf Scholz and the city-state’s Minister of Culture, Prof. Barbara Kisseler.

Minister of State Maria Böhmer: “I am delighted that the citizens of Hamburg now try to bring their tradition of openness to the world to the circle of UNESCO. There are more than 1,000 heritage sites in the world, and 39 in Germany alone. The warehouse district, the Kontorhausviertel and the Chilehaus would enrich the unique global cultural treasure of humanity. They strengthen the feeling of home and ensure worldwide attention. Culture creates identity. Sustainable management of cultural heritage provides a great opportunity for economic stimulus. I wish the citizens of the City of Hamburg every success for the decision in Bonn.”

First Mayor Olaf Scholz: “We are pleased to present our nominated world heritage Site, .e. the warehouse district and adjacent Kontorhausviertel with Chile House just a few weeks ahead of the decision by the World Heritage Committee. Speicherstadt and Kontorhausviertel are characterised by a high architectural and urban coherence, through which they occupy a special position compared to the warehouse complexes of other port cities both nationally and internationally. The recognition as a World Heritage Site would be a great honuor and is associated with a high responsibility.”

Striving for Recognition since 1999

Prof. Barbara Kisseler, Hamburg MInister of Culture, add: “Since 1999, Hamburg has been pursuing its application. I expressly thank all those who constructively accompanied this process for years. Kontorhausviertel and Speicherstadt today act as a bridge between downtown Hamburg and the new waterfront district of HafenCity, while simultaneously opening up for new and attractive for urban uses. Thus above all, they are also a best practice of keep monuments alive and thus preserving them for posterity. As a Minister of Culture, It pleases me immensely that cultural offers make an important contribution to this end.”

Since 1999, on the Tentative List

The decision of the World Heritage Committee is preceded by a thorough decision-making process. As early as 1999, Chilehaus has been admitted to the tentative list of future cultural and natural heritage of the world. In 2007, applications were extended to Speicherstadt and Kontorhausviertel. In February 2014, the application documents were finally submitted in Paris. After the comprehensive evaluation and assessment of the application documents and the candidate site by ICOMOS International, the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO will now announce its final decision between 26 June and 8 July 2015during its meeting in Bonn. The World Heritage Committee of UNESCO is composed of 21 members. At this year’s meeting, 1,500 delegates from the 191 parties to the World Heritage Convention plus numerous journalists are expected in Bonn. Highlight of every session of the World Heritage Committee is the announcement of new World Heritage sites.

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