The outdated and dark pedestrian underpass at Paul-Nevermann-Platz in the Hamburg District of Altona has been completely redeveloped. The area had to be upgraded both visually and functionally. Thereby,the focus was on a barrier-free layout and the safe crossing of the busy road, Max-Brauer-Allee. The city planners and architects chose pavers by Wienerberger in six different shades as the ideal paving material.

Project details

Project Complete redevelopment of the pedestrian underpass of Max-Brauer-Allee, Hamburg-Altona, Germany
Client Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, District Authority of Altona, Department for Economic Affairs, Construction and the Environment 
Architect arbos Freiraumplanung GmbH & Co. KG, Peter Köster & Christian Wagner 
Used pavers Penter Blue, Titan Kohlebrand, Schwarzbraun Kohlebrand, Rotblaubunt Kohlebrant, Köln, Gelbbunt Kohlebrand 
 

Forecourt and underpass of Max-Brauer-Allee in Altona before refurbishment

Redevelopment of the pedestrian underpass in Hamburg-Altona, Germany

Forecourt and refurbished underpass of Max-Brauer-Allee in Altona

Redevelopment of the pedestrian underpass in Hamburg-Altona, Germany

Forecourt and refurbished underpass of Max-Brauer-Allee in Altona

Redevelopment of the pedestrian underpass in Hamburg-Altona, Germany

Refurbished underpass of Max-Brauer-Allee in Altona with wall design

Redevelopment of the pedestrian underpass in Hamburg-Altona, Germany

Workers laying clay pavers at the forecourt of Max-Brauer-Allee in Altona

Redevelopment of the pedestrian underpass in Hamburg-Altona, Germany

Old and new clay pavers; old clay pavers have been reused

Redevelopment of the pedestrian underpass in Hamburg-Altona, Germany

Refurbished forecourt of Max-Brauer-Allee in Altona

Redevelopment of the pedestrian underpass in Hamburg-Altona, Germany

Forecourt and refurbished underpass of Max-Brauer-Allee in Altona

Redevelopment of the pedestrian underpass in Hamburg-Altona, Germany

The idea

When a Swedish investor appeared on the scene in Altona with his first inner-city furniture store, it wasn’t just old buildings that had to make way. Infrastructural facilities such as streets, pedestrian underpasses, stairs and walkways were examined and experts expected a doubling of the number of pedestrians to 50,000 people per day – a clear mandate for a thorough redevelopment.

Special format in six colours

The design competition initiated by the District of Altona was won by the Hamburg-based office arbos Freiraumplanung. For this project, the landscape architects selected fired clay, a characteristic building material in the Hanseatic City. This special building project required a special paver. Consequently, the planners together with Wienerberger developed a paver with a special format of 240 x 78 x 71 millimetres, which is wider than standard format. Construction works were commenced in October 2013. Six clay paver types were used on an area of about 1,400 square metres, which resulted in a strikingly colourful result. The models Titan, Schwarzbraun Kohlebrand, Rotblaubunt Kohlebrand, Penter Blue, Köln as well as Penter Gelbbunt Kohlebrand were installed in a herringbone pattern.

Freehand colour gradient

The formative element of the redevelopment is the blue-black Penter Blue, which covers almost half of the overall area. The other five colours were installed in equal shares. The official plans did not specify an exact laying pattern for the individual pavers, so the visible flow of dark shades in the underpass towards lighter paving at the railway station was laid as a “freehand mixture”. In combination with a well-conceived lighting concept and additional design elements such as a backlit, gold-coloured lamella wall, this area now conveys a safe and inviting atmosphere.

3 questions with Christian Wagner:

You proposed the use of clay pavers since the first planning concept. Why did you feel so strongly about this material?
The decision to use clay pavers on this project was based on the positive experience we gathered in other developments. Here, it was important to upgrade the area and provide additional safety. An unregulated weekly market, the poor conditions of the underpass and the lighting situation led to the area being perceived as unsafe by members of the public. Since fired clay is the characteristic material of Hamburg’s architecture, we deliberately banked on Wienerberger pavers. They are frost-resistant, almost indestructible, their colour never fades and they facilitate countless design possibilities.
 
Colourful designs are rather rare: how exactly did this colour concept come about?
Through every stage of planning, we wanted to create a colour gradient in the paving from dark shades in the underpass to a light floor covering at the end of the pedestrian ramp. Initially, only anthracite and light grey were to be used, but we concluded this was not vivid enough. In agreement with the district authority, the idea was developed to work with five different shades. In the subsequent planning process, this developed into six colours with the Titan paver in brown-anthracite.
 
In collaboration with Wienerberger, you developed a new paver format. How did this happen?
We had a very clear idea of what the project should look like. To ensure the necessary shifting security on such a large floor area, herringbone installation was a necessity. However, laying pavers with standard formats in an upright position was out of the question from a design point of view. Therefore, the idea of especially thick pavers with the special format of 240 x 78 x 71mm was developed in collaboration with Wienerberger and produced in all six shades with consistency and high quality.

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