The group of buildings on the Deichtorplatz is one of the city’s most important cultural monuments.

The House of Photography and the Hall for Contemporary Art are distinguished by their open steel-and-glass architecture. Built between 1911 and 1914, the former market halls are one of the few remaining examples of industrial architecture that represent the transition from Jugendstil to twentieth-century styles.

The halls exhibit a synthesis of engineering and traditional architecture, with an exposed steel structure and a church-like floor plan. The north hall is a three-nave elongated building with 4000 square meters of space, and the south hall with 2300 square meters of space is a central building with a lantern.

The buildings were designed by Erik Unger-Nyborg under head engineer Johann Friedrich Ludwig Ferdinand Sperber.

After the halls stood empty for many years, the Körber Foundation financed their restoration and renovation into one of the largest exhibition centers in Europe. The Berlin-based architect Josef Paul Kleihues was commissioned to plan the project. The aim of the restoration was to preserve the historical building structure. The delicate glass and steel construction as well as the unique atmosphere of the interiors were maintained.

The buildings, which were restored over a period of eleven months, and the redesigned grounds were transferred to the city of Hamburg in September 1988. Laurence Weiner created a sculpture for the Deichtorplatz, and the sculpture TWA by Richard Serra borders the square to the east. The north hall features the neon light work Se la forma scompare la sua radice è eterna (1989) by Mario Merz as well as Blaue Scheibe by Imi Knoebel. The Deichtorplatz also includes two walk-in “language cylinders” by Rupprecht Matthies.

The reconstruction of the south hall for the House of Photography took place in 2004 and 2005 according to plans by the Hamburg-based architect Jan Störmer. From November 2013 to February 2015, the Hall for Contemporary Art was completely renovated and modernized by the Berlin office of Sunder-Plassmann Kappeln. The new interior as well as the opening of the space to the Deichtorplatz lend the building a more transparent appearance. Accessibility was an important criterion, as were flexible exhibition spaces with dedicated rooms for art education. The Hall for Contemporary Art now includes a bookstore as well as a cafe with an outdoor terrace.