Hotel Steigenberger and Variety Theater,
Weser district, Bremen

The new Weser Quartier (Weser district) is located barely a kilometer and a half from the cathedral and city hall, a bit west of the old ramparts and near the boundary of the commercial ports of Bremen’s Überseestadt. The realignment and rearrangement of the area just south of the east-west axis of Eduard-Schopf-Allee and directly north of the Weser River is part of a development policy typical of many municipalities; sites formerly used for industrial and commercial purposes are being developed into new districts where the service-oriented society of the twentyfirst century can find spatial and architectural structures suited to its needs.

The Weser district occupies roughly 35,000 square meters. The area, which has a slight downward incline, extends as far as the river, whose bank has been enlivened with a wide promenade. The Weser Tower, a building more than eighty meters tall designed by Helmut Jahn, dominates the new district. At the base of this edifice are a plaza and additional buildings.

Of the Weser district’s freestanding buildings, the complex comprising the Hotel Steigenberger and the variety theater occupies a prominent position, one that gives both buildings the freedom to present themselves from the front, side, and rear while turning their backs to the railroad tracks. Hotel and theater are connected by a passage constructed entirely of glass that leads from the round forecourt to a flight of steps and the path along the river.

The strongly projecting ends of the hotel’s inland- and river-facing short sides lend the long block construction a certain sense of lightness. The building has seven
stories; the approximately 140 single rooms, double rooms, and suites have a four-star ranking. The façades emphasize the supporting structure of ceilings and supports. The constructional elements are faced on the outside with aluminum, while the floor-to-ceiling glass panels in between—thanks to their division into non-colored transparent and colored nontransparent panels—have a distinctive enlivening effect.

By comparison, the façades of the theater seem more closed. Nevertheless, the close-set, vertical massing of their aluminum poles avoids any appearance of heaviness, giving instead the impression of a broad cluster of reeds, not unlike that found on rivers like the Weser.

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