A new canal bridge connects worlds

The Speicherstadt historical warehouse district, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a special world – just like its most popular tourist magnet, Miniatur Wunderland. To allow Wunderland to grow, HHLA Real Estate has built a bridge that meets specific requirements.

The new bridge is a unique construction. In Miniatur Wunderland, the steel structure serves as the bridge between Europe and the South American continent. The bridge is fully enclosed by anti-glare glass so that visitors can move between the continents in warehouse blocks D and L without getting cold or wet. Wanderers between the worlds will have a clear view of the canal. Since the floors of the two warehouses are at different heights, the bridge from Block D to Block L is on a slight decline.

Approximately ten years passed between the initial idea to build the bridge, and the first planning stages, to its lift-in. The new bridge construction was included in the original application for the Speicherstadt to be added to the UNESCO list of World Heritage Sites. With its delicate and subdued design, the new bridge meets Hamburg’s landmark protection requirements.

"This is truly an amazing moment. When you have been working on a project like this for so long, it’s rather special to finally see this structure in the place where it belongs,” says Rainer Schluff, technical managing director of HHLA Real Estate. For him, the bridge is more than just a canal crossing. “It allows us to create the conditions for the expansion and further development of one of the most popular tourist magnets in Hamburg: Miniatur Wunderland.”

The construction, transport and lift-in of the new canal bridge presented planners with particular challenges

The new bridge was constructed in a facility in Kassel. A heavy transporter then brought it to Hamburg in one piece. To place the bridge between the two warehouses, a mobile crane that weighs 750 tonnes and can be extended up to 58 metres lifted the steel structure 28 metres above Warehouse D to the designated position.

With a weight of around 40 tonnes (36 at lift-in), the bridge rests on twelve deep foundation piles of up to 18 metres in length. It is 25 metres long, roughly 3.3 metres high and is suspended nearly 16 metres above the canal. “Such an exciting and demanding project is extraordinary, even for an architect here in the Speicherstadt historical warehouse district. And it’s also unique. There will probably be no more new bridges because of the Speicherstadt’s status as a World Heritage Site,” says Alexandre Rombourg, project manager in charge of the bridge at HHLA Real Estate.

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