Taking a long view of investment

The Emporio Tower is among Hamburg’s key architectural landmarks and was previously known as Unilever House. When the tenant moved to a new location in mid-2009, one of Europe’s most ambitious regeneration projects was launched. Today, EMPORIO is fully let again, this time as a multi-tenant property.

Summary and achievements

The skyscraper was refurbished with a strong focus on sustainability and on safeguarding its heritage-protected status. A new building was also added on the same site, and the area opened up for public access. Under the direction of Union Investment’s Real Estate Project Management team, an entire new quarter was created in the heart of the city. The EMPORIO ensemble is now fully let and forms one of the most sustainable building complexes in Hamburg.

28.000 sq m of additional rental space created
48 months project duration
Mixed use hotel and living space, 
LEED certification, multi tenant property

The starting point

The reinforced concrete structure with its three wings was designed in the 1960s by leading architect duo Helmut Hentrich and Hubert Petschnigg. Union Investment acquired the property for its open-ended real estate fund Unilmmo: Deutschland in 1989. As a typical example of the kind of imposing architecture adopted by businesses during Germany’s post-war economic boom, the building was listed as an architectural monument at the start of 2000. When Unilever started planning to relocate its headquarters in 2006, Union Investment was presented with an exciting opportunity.

The objective

It quickly became clear that minimal updating was simply not an option. Demolition was also ruled out – partly due to the building’s protected status but also because it is much more sustainable to retain existing building stock. Having carefully considered all the possible courses of action, Union Investment decided to fully refurbish the high-rise block. The site was also to be opened up and enhanced by additional usages. And whereas Unilever was a sole tenant, Union Investment consciously opted for a multi-tenant strategy.

The solution

Each approximately 1,600 sq m storey within the high rise can now be divided into three separate rental areas if desired. Cellular, open plan or a combination of both – any floor plan is possible, allowing highly efficient use of space.

The protected façade presented a particular challenge. Designated an important visual landmark by the city authorities, it had to be retained. It was faithfully recreated, while complying with the latest energy standards.


The new usage concept encompasses a sophisticated mix of office space and catering facilities in the skyscraper, with the adjacent new build featuring apartments, offices, restaurants and a hotel. Since September 2012, the latter has increased the area’s diversity while at the same time minimising risk.

Bent Mühlena
“As an investor with a focus on the long term, we always plan for the future. This ensures that properties we develop or acquire today retain their value and continue to meet user requirements.”

Bent Mühlena, Head of Real Estate Project Management

This development underlines Union Investment’s holistic understanding of sustainability. It is thus no surprise that following LEED certification of the high rise, the new build Scandic Hamburg EMPORIO hotel achieved a DGNB Gold Rating.

Sven Lintl
“A multi-tenant concept reduces letting risk, but makes greater demands on space flexibility.”

Sven Lintl, Head of Asset Management Germany

From Unilever building to EMPORIO

Follow the journey from heritage-protected Unilever headquarters to one of the most sustainable buildings in Hamburg in our image Gallery.

  • Emporio Hamburg Stadt
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Want to find out more about our asset management activities? Take a look at our brochure and read about the one-to-one support we provide for our tenants and how we maintain the value of our real estate holdings.