After many protests, the dispute over the demolition or new construction of the City high-rise buildings on Klosterwall will now probably be fought out in the city parliament.
Can modernity still be saved? City-Hof in Hamburg’s city center. Photo: Department of Culture
The dispute over whether to demolish or rebuild the City-Hofe on Klosterwall will probably be taken to the city parliament. In the Commission for Land Use Planning, there should be enough members of the Burgerschaft who are in favor of a referral.
A discussion in the Burgerschaft would at least appease some of the critics of the current procedure, who are upset by its alleged lack of transparency. Representatives of the architects’ association and the preservation of historical monuments had accused the Senate of avoiding a substantive discussion and using legal dodges to push through the demolition of a listed ensemble.
In May, three bidders were left in the bidding process for the City-Hofe: Two proposed demolition, the Matrix company a preservation concept drawn up by architect Volkwin Marg. The latter was rejected by the financial authority because Matrix had added reservations to its offer.
Marg accuses the tax authority of adding new conditions after the final bid was submitted. According to this, Matrix would have had to submit an approvable building application within one year.
The four parallel high-rise buildings on Klosterwall belong to the city.
At the end of the 1950s they were built by the architect Rudolf Klophaus.
In the style they form a deliberate contrast to the Kontorhaus district.
Their white ceramic facade was clad with gray and yellow Eternit panels in 1977.
Since 2013 the buildings, which are connected on the first floor by a shopping arcade, have been listed.
"A complete building application costs a few million," Marg says. But in doing so, the city should still be able to withdraw from the contract for three years – an unacceptable risk for Marg. For the bidders willing to demolish, he says, this deadline is not a problem because they first have to announce a competition and do not plan in detail at all.
Matrix had asked for a meeting date, which the city had refused. The bidder therefore signed the contract, but added an appendix of questions to be clarified. The city sees that as a formal error. "With this argument, the city is violating its own historic preservation law," Marg is annoyed. This is because the latter only permits demolition if it is economically impossible to maintain and operate a building. The Matrix offer, however, proved the opposite. The company had lodged an objection.
The tax authority points out that all bidders had the same contract terms. "The city has had bad experiences in the past with open contract situations that involve expensive renegotiations," says spokesman Daniel Stricker.
"There was already a design error in the tender by combining preservation and demolition," criticizes Olaf Duge, a member of parliament for the Green Party. From the point of view of monument protection, he considers demolition to be "extremely questionable". This question would have to be decided politically.
His coalition colleague Dirk Kienscherf of the SPD, on the other hand, finds it surprising that preservation was even considered in the proceedings. "In Mitte, everyone assumed the thing would be torn down," he says.
If the bidding process was not conducted correctly, he expects Matrix to sue.