Weserspitze Bremen

What does it mean to build on the water of a major river? The Weser was one of Germany’s most important waterways, once marked by a huge seaport eighty kilometers inland. The traces of water traffic: walls, supports, and landing sites, still shape the city’s riverside area today. A significant tide of four to five meters impressively distorts this extensive urban space every day.

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The new structure, a service building, and the expansion of a museum will conclude an urban island with a new, architectural bridgehead on the other side of an unattractive bridge. We were fascinated by the reddish shore walls and the piers on the island, by the dark, basalt-like embankments that bare themselves and then sink back into the water according to the tide. We thus decided to continue this course of walls, wrung from the water, to lead it under the bridge and transport it into the water in the artificial wave of a building base. From these base walls, the floors dissolve in the middle part, then separate individually, to concentrate as two-story, cantilevered concluding bodies in a symmetrical figure. The weight of the structure is thereby—as is often the case in our projects—at the very top; the resonating structure forms a calm, simple sign recognizable from great distances. The slender and upright front end hereby appears almost like a water level meter. Through the constant change caused by the tides, the surface’s proportion sculpturally expresses the natural changes of the urban river bed. The path system in the base opens the bridgehead to the public. 

«Weserspitze» has become an artificial, stylized bit of island, like the shiny brass knob on a wooden stick. The walls and the parapets are covered in heavy, colored concrete plates that depict the flood lines of the water through the different shaping of their surfaces. Only the uppermost floors are brought together as a glass body behind a floral veil. Like in other designs (Study for the Albtal Ettlingen, Swiss Embassy Moscow und Diagonal Barcelona), "Weserspitze" operates on a blurred border between nature and architecture.

Location: Bremen (D)

Project: 2006–2007

Client: Zech Immobilien GmbH, Bremen (D)

Meili, Peter Architekten: Marcel Meili, Markus Peter

Christof Weber; Markus Deml

publications

«Die Zeitung weicht dem grossen Geschäft»
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Architecture and Urbanism, Nr. 444/2007

cross sections in the main and middle section of the building and on the bridge side

Longitudinal section

ground plan below bridge level with museum entrance

ground plan bridge level with main entry and top floor museum

ground plan topmost office floor

Façade study for the cultivation of «flood lines» in the concrete formwork

Aerial view of the old, large Weser Bridge with the island in the river (1934)

Design sketch

ortho image of the Weserspitze

Embankments at high and low water

volume studies at low water

Water level simulation for low and high water

neues museum weserburg and museum space in the project, connected via a new shore path

View of the Weserspitze and the Bürgermeister Smidt Bridge from northwest at average water level

Anthonie Braakmann, «Winter auf der Weser» (1843)

Flood traces on the rocks