25hours: Reclaimed Shipping Container Hotel in Hamburg

Have you ever visited a harbor bustling with barges, cranes and sunburned dock workers and thought, ‘I wish I could sleep here’? If so, you’re in luck. The architecture firm Stephen Williams Associates have completed a hotel in Hamburg that will make you feel like you’re staying in a shipping warehouse “with the roughness a sailor would appreciate.”

The central unit of the 25hours Hafencity Hotel is a bright orange, weather-worn shipping container that was donated to the project. It encloses a conference center adjacent to the main lounge, where the floor is painted with yellow grid markings.  The main desk is made of plywood boxes, and when guests arrive, they pile their luggage onto industrial trolleys that are lugged around by burly safe in Breton shirts.


Guest rooms are intimate as ship cabins, each fitted with a trunk stocked with drinks, a logbook, information packets and electrical sockets. The architects emphasize that staying here is an experience in itself, boasting, “The ‘Hafen Sauna’ is on the rooftop built within a rusty container with panoramic views over the industrial harbor. It is the furthest from wellness that one could imagine.”

“We wanted to create a web of meaning with interrelating signs and symbols referring to seafaring and harbour life. A place where old and new stories come to life,” says Stephen Williams. “Objects are just like characters in the script, they are not the story itself. It is the interplay that brings this to life, the context of spacial sequences. To achieve democratic spaces where everyone can feel comfortable and be who they are is worth achieving. Then we have created the true living room of the Harbour city.”

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