The question hardly needs to be asked; of course, the Kontorhausviertel in Hamburg is a treasure. Built on the basis of American office block designs from the late 19th century, the style was seized upon by German expressionist architects in the 1920s. The result is a delectable fusion of North American practicality and North German Hanseatic sobriety.
Originally, the office blocks (Kontorhäuser) were equipped with paternoster (basically, open elevators which remain constantly in motion, thus requiring the passengers to literally hop on or hop off). Today, most have modern elevators - with the exception of the Sprinkenhof above, which still has a paternoster available for the use of the tenants.
Another beautiful office building is the Mohlenhof, which features a fusion of North German sandstone materials and fired red brick. The sandstone, together with the statue decorations, showcase the Mohlenhof's slightly more backward-looking architectural style.
The world-famous Chilehaus is the most desirable of all the Kontorhäuser and, accordingly, has the highest priced rent for office space. It is also the best example of the expressionist style deployed throughout this part of town and is, like its neighbors, under historical protection.
Expressionism straddles the artistic divide between Bauhaus and Art Nouveau. It includes whimsical elements and, at the same time, pays homage to modernism. As with the doorway above, the hearkening back to gothic elements is more obvious, perhaps, than in the other photographs. The medieval era evoked, of course, was known for its fantastical stories and its imagination, which are two elements the expressionist architects sought to capture.
From the adjacent Dovenfleet we have a view of the German Customs Museum and the Hamburg Port Authority. Although the tourists I photographed are undoubtedly having a great time, if they want to see the Kontorhausviertel, they'll still need to do some walking later.