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Along with Mümmelmannsberg, Steilshoop and Kirchdorf Süd, Osdorfer Born was also designed and built as a large housing estate in the 1960s. At the time, the high-rise district in the west of Hamburg was considered one of the first large prefabricated housing estates in the city, built out of an acute housing shortage. Opinions differ about the Bornheide 80/82 high-rise ensemble, the tallest single building in the district: what some people criticise as inhospitable and cold, the majority of residents regard as positive in terms of quality of life. About 50 years after its construction, it was now time for a fundamental renovation.

Refurbishment and conversion
altoba - Altonaer Spar- und Bauverein
2-8 HOAI
Osdorf district in Hamburg
Landscape architecture
MERA - Landschaftsarchitektur für Mensch und Raum
Fotografie Dorfmüller & Klier
Renovation Award 2021 in the Metal Category I Brillux Design Award 2023 in the category residential buildings

The Bornheide high-rise residential building is only figuratively the 'scene of the crime'. Axel Milberg and Lars Eidinger have already tested the stability of the balcony elements for the filming of the ARD crime thriller.

Some of the residents had to be accommodated in alternative flats during the construction period, as sanitary facilities were modernised, pipes renewed and windows replaced in all flats. Kitchens, facades, the roof and the entire technical equipment of the building were renewed. But the effort was definitely worth it in terms of maintaining the value of the property and the living comfort of the residents. A total of 166 residential units are located in the two-part 18- and 16-storey residential building. In addition, five flats on the ground floor were converted into an integrated day care facility, which enables the residents to live in their familiar surroundings for as long as possible.

In order to take away the solidity of the building block as such, the majority of the metal façade consists of low-contrast, iridescent shades of grey. Due to projections and recesses, balconies and stair cores, the building consists of 46 individual façade surfaces for which a total of 17,855 panels, i.e. metal strips, were produced in different shades of grey, widths and lengths. The metal panels are of high quality and resistant, and together with the insulation layer, which was also renewed, they fulfil all fire protection and energy guidelines. Previously, the insulation layer behind the façade consisted of pressed wood chips, which are combustible and had to be replaced immediately during a façade inspection in 2017.

Site map
Ground floor
First floor
Ground floor
Elevation north

Looking into the city, there is no way around the Bornheide high-rise residential building. Reason enough to provide the formerly monotonous appearance with deliberately chosen colour accents to reflect the colourful and lively district on the cityscape-defining façade as well. The glossy balcony elements are not overly poppy, but striking and, in the different shades of red, resemble a magnificent sunset in the middle of the city at the right time of day. The wall colours of the arcades on the north side of the façade pick up on the respective hues.

Voices from the team

With its strong color concept and emphasis on private open spaces, the high-rise can serve as a pioneering example of the aesthetic transformation of residential buildings in difficult locations.


The metal cladding was a top planning achievement by our team. In logistical precision work, the almost 18,000 standing seam sheets were produced and transported to the construction site to be installed on 7,800 square metres of façade surface in six months.


The building is not only a clearly recognisable symbol from a distance, but also offers a fascinating perceptual experience. The façade with its colourful galleries attracts the eye and reinforces the concept of orientation by guiding the eye and telling a visual story the closer you get to the building.


Disasters such as the devastating major fire in London in 2021 show once again how important it is, especially in large housing estates such as Osdorfer Born, to replace combustible materials without delay and to comply with fire safety regulations.


The strong colours of the arcades and balconies stand for the liveliness that is hidden behind the neutral metal façade. They give the building a friendly character all of its own.