LUBECK – In the Hanseatic city of Lubeck, Germany, Andreas Heller Architects & Designers has designed the largest European museum dedicated to Hanse history – the powerful league of merchants and towns that fostered the exchange of goods in northern Europe. The Hansemuseum is situated in the north part of the old town which is part of the UNESCO world heritage site, where originally the Lubeck settlement started. The new building is part of the Castle Friary site, which is one of the most important medieval monuments in northern Germany, tracing a long and eventful history. The museum complex extends to the top of Castle Hill all the way down to the main street, which is where the entrance for the new museum is located. This layout gives visitors the opportunity to explore the new museum as well as giving access to the historic, connecting the old with the new.
In relation to the existing city, the building makes a confident statement with a façade consisting of finely-crafted brick texture with modernist lines, revitalising the significance of the past and giving it a modern day context. The museum’s monolithic form is inspired by the medieval city wall, which once ran along the foot of Castle Hill. The envelope embodies medieval characteristics through its jagged, irregular bricks that are one-offs, cast by hand, in wooden moulds. On one of the street sides of the museum leading up the Castle Hill, the building forms a gabled façade similar to the townhouses in Lubeck. The gabled form helps the museum blend in with the adjacent buildings while still expressing intricate detail through a broad ornamental design based on the quatrefoil – a striking motif of brick from the gothic era.
The interior of the Hansemuseum begins on the site of an archaeological dig which has been integrated into the exhibition. Alternating open and enclosed areas throughout the different levels of the space creates an intriguing option for visitors to explore, sit and enjoy. Public terraces provide a panoramic view of the former port along with various historic courtyards. The European Hansemuseum takes pride in its rich historic roots adding these details into the architectural design embracing the past with the present.