Hamburg in the crosshairs

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Hamburg canals split off harbor. (

The annual G20 conference of the world’s major economies met in Hamburg last week, with leaders convening in palaces and demonstrators rioting in the streets. It brought to mind the cheerful violence that greeted me and my brother, Tony, on a tour boat trip during our visit to the North Sea port back in, I think, 2003. We began on the city lake and ended up plying rivers with campgrounds and beer houses along verdant shores, from which groups in small boats would embark, approach, then launch attacks with hand-thrown water balloons at our boat. We would duck behind the gunwales. (Sorry, no shots of projectiles in mid-flight; the fotog was busy ducking!) Fun, but a bit edgy, given the scruffy look of most of our interlocutors. Some of them may also have been in launch mode at last week’s summit.

The video here is a German product. The weather is gray and Christmas is near. There is no narration (but a couple of musical interludes that may be zipped through). The video demonstrates very graphically how difficult it is to meld modern architecture into the architecture of history and tradition, of which Hamburg still has long stretches. But the Germans, too, are trying to find a middle way that works, such as seems to be on display in the long, curved, then sharp, mainly traditional building pictured in the screenshot below. Nah, turns out to be from the 1920s. Oh well. Beneath that is another shot of Hamburg’s canals. The shot on top of this post shows the same canal scene today lit at night. Finally are a few shots from our Hamburg visit a decade and a half ago, with apologies for the flawed photography.

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About David Brussat

This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. History Press asked me to write and in August 2017 published my first book, "Lost Providence." I am now writing my second book. My freelance writing on architecture and other topics addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to employ my writing and editing to improve your work, please email me at my consultancy,, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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2 Responses to Hamburg in the crosshairs

  1. What is that glass corridor hanging over the river? It looks like a jetway for boats.


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