Conversion wins over demolition for cruise terminal in Bremerhaven

1 September 2023
Credit: loomn Architekturvisualisierung
  • © loomn Architekturvisualisierung
  • gmp Architects
  • gmp Architects
  • gmp Architects



gmp awarded tender with refurbishment and extension proposal

The sustainable design by Tenderstream member von Gerkan, Marg and Partners (gmp) has won the tendering procedure for the Columbus Cruise Terminal in Bremerhaven, which will now be refurbished and extended rather than demolished. The terminal boasts a long history, and its popularity with locals and tourists alike gives the site significant potential as an ongoing attraction. Since opening in 1827, the port has served eight million people as the starting point of their journey to the New World. In 1958, Elvis Presley disembarked here on his way to do his military service in Germany – and was greeted by thousands of fans. 

Nowadays, the terminal is mainly used by cruise ships. When the facility opened its famed Columbuskaje quay in 1927, its role in transatlantic shipping was strengthened. The current terminal was created between 1952 and 1958, but as air travel started to boom during the following decade, the era of the classic cross-Atlantic cruise ended. Sections to the south of the passenger facilities were left incomplete, and a storage depot was built instead. 

The current plan, in the spirit of sustainable development, is to retain and develop existing units by converting them in line with the original – albeit aborted – design idea. An example is the high-rise building, where the reinforced concrete structure will be extended to the full, originally-planned 14 storeys, using an innovative load bearing system. At the same time, iconic interior spaces will be kept, such as the first-class waiting area and the central hall with associated shops. There is potential for expansion, including spaces for cultural events and food outlets. A park will provide a place for ship passengers to relax while awaiting departure, which can also be enjoyed by day visitors.  

In addition to the environmental advantages of refurbishment rather than demolition and replacement, further sustainable measures include a positive CO2 balance achieved by using sea water for passive heating and cooling, and the installation of photovoltaic elements in order to generate electricity. 

Lucy Nordberg
Tenderstream Head of Research

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