Hamburg’s gleaming white landmark
Aug 6, 2013
The Energieberg project includes an exhibition building and the so-called information paths are part of, but the horizontal path is by far the most beautiful feature. Photo © RMIG

For decades the whole area was inaccessible, not that anyone really wanted to enter it: The Georgswerder landfill outside Wilhelmsburg. Now it is part of the IBA International Construction Exhibition in Hamburg and suddenly has a new lease of life. Moreover, as a model sustainable project with a spectacular path round it! The floating structure featuring perforated metal screens by RMIG not only runs right across the 40-meter-high hill, but also offers a spectacular view out over Hamburg and the harbor.

What started out as a heap of house rubble in the wake of World War II soon became a land-fill for household waste, and, at a later date, for industrial waste such as paints and varnishes. Easy to imagine that environmental problems were not far behind. Dioxin emissions were reported and the base of the dump site had to be shored up at great expenses; later, the surface was covered with sealing strips and top soil.

Today, the hill can be considered a technical edifice – and can be visited at specific times, as the former dump now generates energy in a variety of ways and demonstrates how garbage and waste can also be used effectively. Berlin architects Häfner Jimenez won the 2009 competition to redesign the “Georgswerder Enery Hill”. Their proposal included so-called demonstration paths, that outlined the history of the dump, while the horizontal, flat path was laid out such that thanks to its supporting columns of different heights it emulated the hill’s topography. The footbridge had parapets made of RMIG perforated metal, and is a good 900 meters long. Radiant in white, it creates a straight line in the countryside that is visible from afar. Its breadth varies: it expands to as much as seven meters wide where there are great views, for example of downtown Hamburg. From here you can also easily see the wind turbines that together with the photovoltaic plant on the southern slope generate electricity for 4,000 households. In an information building, the sustainable model project is explained in detail in an exhibition entitled “The Tamed Dragon”; for example, there is data on how owing to disintegration processes the landfill creates methane that is then used by a nearby copper smelter.

That said, the footbridge itself is the most spectacular feature – offering an amazing view in otherwise flatland Hamburg. In the evening it glows mysteriously and is visible as a landmark from afar. To this end, LEDs were integrated into the hand rail – when activated they make the RMIG perforated metal seem suddenly transparent. Needless to say, they run on the locally produced power.

The Energieberg project includes an exhibition building and the so-called information paths are part of, but the horizontal path is by far the most beautiful feature. Photo © RMIG
Who would have though a waste dump might one day morph into a popular leisure-time destination. But a view across to Hamburg’ s landmark Michel and to the Elb Philharmonic construction site is truly unique. Foto © RMIG
Landscape acrhitects Häfner – Jimenez opted for resilient materials such as galvanized metal profile boards and parapets made of RMIG perforated metal. Photo © RMIG
Wind turbines and a photovoltaic plant on the landfill hill provide electricity for 4,000 homes in Hamburg’s Wilhelmsburg district. Photo © RMIG
At night, the footbridge gleams, rivaling the harbor lights. Photo © RMIG
The parapets made by RMIG are illuminated from the outside, making them seem far more transparent. Photo © RMIG
LEDs set in the handrail use the RMIG perforated metal as a reflective medium. Photo © RMIG
Not all LEDs illuminate to the same extent, creating real highlights. Photo © RMIG
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