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Work-Life Centre at Gorch-Fock-Wall




Hamburg, Germany

The challenge

As hollow core ceilings were used in the renovation of the listed building, a sprinkler system was sought that could be laid in concrete for space reasons.

The solution

Despite the air chambers used, aquatherm red pipe could be easily integrated into the storey ceilings due to its flexibility and corrosion resistance.




aquatherm red


aquatherm red provides fire protection in the Work-Life-Center in Hamburg – For over 130 years, the „Alte Oberpostdirektion“ has been a dominant feature of the cityscape in Hamburg‘s city centre. The building complex stretches over a length of 300 metres and is particularly impressive with its palatial main building in neo-Renaissance style. Around 150 million euros have been invested since 2011 to renovate and expand the listed building. The result is a modern work-life centre that has retained its historic exterior but can score points with state-of-the-art building technology – especially in the area of fire protection.

The approximately 14,000 sqm central building consists of the historic three-storey structure from 1887 on Gorch-Fock-Wall, a two-storey building from the 1920s along Dammtorwall and the glazed Semperhalle. The complex was developed into modern office and retail space according to plans by LH Architekten, while the historic façade was preserved. In addition to a two-storey underground car park including technical areas, a new glass extension has been created, which increases the building section on Gorch-Fock-Wall to four full storeys. The building on Dammtorwall was extended by a five-storey glazed structure. The central glass hall with its steel structure was retained, as were two historic staircases. In 2018, the renovation work was completed.

To provide the necessary safety in the event of a fire, aquatherm red was used throughout the building complex. This is the first plastic sprinkler pipe system to be certified by VDS Schadenverhütung GmbH, Europe‘s largest institute for corporate safety. The system comes from aquatherm, the world‘s leading manufacturer of plastic piping systems made of polypropylene for plant construction and building services.

Laying directly in the concrete

Since hollow core ceilings and low cavity floors were partially used in the property, the sprinkler system had to be laid in the concrete for space reasons. We were already familiar with aquatherm products from previous projects and decided to use aquatherm red because of previous good experiences, explains Wolfgang Börger, Senior Specialist Fire Extinguishing Technology at Planungsgruppe M+M AG in Hamburg. The wet system was installed as a sprinkler line pipe and distribution pipe directly in the concrete of the hollow core ceilings. Despite the air chambers used in this type of ceiling, which ensure a lower concrete requirement and thus lead to static and architectural advantages, the system could be easily integrated into the storey ceilings due to its flexibility. Around 3000 sprinklers with approx. 8000m of aquatherm red were used, which, due to the space-saving and invisible installation method in concrete, allowed the highest design freedom with regard to the design of the ceiling.

The laying in concrete is made possible by the special material: aquatherm red consists of the plastic polypropylene, specifically of the material fusiolen® PP-R FS developed by aquatherm. This material offers a high degree of safety due to its flame-retardant properties (building material class B1) and its corrosion resistance. For comparison: Metal sprinkler systems can only be installed in concrete using special protective measures. The reason for this is corrosion, which inevitably occurs when metal and moist concrete meet. The special protection of metal pipe systems makes installation in concrete complex and expensive.

Thanks to fusion, the aquatherm red system was joined to form a homogeneous, materially bonded and thus safe unit. The pipe and fitting were briefly heated using tools designed for this purpose and then simply joined together.


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