Curtain Up: HafenCity as a Stage for Art and Culture
HafenCity has been discovered by the art and cultural community, which is finding widespread support. Institutions with international appeal are emerging in conspicuous sites
HafenCity’s versatile urban spaces - such as the Marco Polo Terraces here - were conceived for cultural events as well (© ELBE&FLUT) Start slideshow
Up until 2003, today’s HafenCity was a big blank spot on Hamburg’s cultural map: free-port status and the Port Development Act prohibited any type of usage that was unrelated to port activities. Art and culture therefore only graduallyfound a place here. But in the meantime cultural and artistic uses have become an important driving force in the district’s development.
The decision to maintain structures typical of a port wherever possible predestined HafenCity for culture: the historic harbor basins and quay walls, cranes and warehouses were restored, creating new settings for art and culture, including large, cultural institutions such as the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall, the International Maritime Museum Hamburg and perhaps also the planned Science Center.
While initially mainly cleared sites were made available temporarily, a permanent arts and creative quarter is to be developed on the southern bank of Oberhafen from the end of 2014. Culture and the arts are also always taken into account in the design of parks, promenades and squares.
CULTURE SCENE WITH NUMEROUS ACTORS
The fledgling artistic and cultural landscape of HafenCity still needs special support. This has led to important cooperation and organizational structures evolving over time. Apart from individ-ual initiatives, such as Musical LandArt, the spark that really triggered the change was the first artists’ competition 2004/2005, the fruit of cooperation between the Hamburg Arts Foundation, Körber Foundation and HafenCity Hamburg GmbH. This was followed by the ater, including specially conceived summer programs by Thalia Theater. At the beginning of 2010, the cooperation partners reoriented their principles and extended the partnership for another three years. In cooperation with Kampnagel, the Hamburg Kunstverein and Deichtorhallen, art projects have been initiated since 2011 which share a common approach: driving the debate on the possibilities of social coexistence and constituting a new urban public sphere in HafenCity.
SUMMER IN HAFENCITY
HafenCity is already on the map for many recurring events as a venue or performance location. These include Summer in HafenCity, with open-air tango, evening readings in a maritime atmosphere, a children’s building site in the open air and lots more. Various squares and promenades now function as open-air stages or dance floors. Also attracting many visitors to HafenCity are Hamburg Architecture Summer and the Long Night of the Museums.
Since 2009 the steadily growing Harbour Front literary festival has also been picking exciting locations by the water for readings with famous authors. The ELBJAZZ music festival, well known far beyond Hamburg, has delighted audiences for years now, showcasing jazz in unusual maritime settings, bringing in international stars and performing dozens of concerts. HafenCity is one of the venues on the Elbe and is sure to reveal more new venues in future. Hamburg’s first regular design market has been a big success since 2010 in the atrium of the Unilever building. Privately financed projects – such as the Prototyp automobile museum in the listed building of Harburger Gummi-Kamm-Compagnie – add to the cultural spectrum. With their invitations to the “Der Montag an der Spitze” series of talks, Spiegel publishing and the Körber foundation offer an exciting chance to experience important guests in discussion in HafenCity.
FRESH IMPULSE FOR THE CREATIVE ECONOMY
Many participants and events are directed by the Cultural Coordination Committee of HafenCity, set up in May 2005 by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Media. Since then HafenCity Hamburg GmbH representatives have met regularly to promote the cultural development of HafenCity. The committee also develops concepts, assuming a share of the responsibility for developing HafenCity’s cultural life. In future, Oberhafen neighborhood will also be a moving force. This creative and cultural area complements Elbtorquartier, which is already developing into a focus for knowledge. The conventional development pattern in HafenCity will be turned on its head in Oberhafenquartier, sinceplots of land will not be sold, but remain special assets of the City of Hamburg. The springboard for development are the existing buildings. The first project, here since 2013, is Hanseatischen Materialverwaltung, a concept for supplying cultural institutions, schools, societies, as well as committed citizens with props and scenery for social, ecological or creative projects.
Creative and cultural uses are already established on the doorstep of the nearby historic Speicherstadt warehouse district, which houses several museums describing the past of this listed ensemble. Now it is also attracting an increasing number of creative people, including artists and gallery owners. The annual open-air Hamburger Jedermann theater production presented by Michael Batz has been an important cultural pioneer. Long before HafenCity was able to become a place of culture, back in the 1990s, this theater experience in Speicherstadt was established as a permanent feature of Hamburg’s cultural scene.
INTERNATIONAL MARITIME MUSEUM HAMBURG
The International Maritime Museum Hamburg opened its doors in the summer of 2008. It took up residence in Kaispeicher B, a warehouse dating from 1879 (architects: Wilhelm Emil Meerwein, Bernhard Hanssen); it is actually the oldest warehouse in HafenCity and the Speicherstadt.
From the summer of 2005, architect Mirjana Markovic had extensively renovated the warehouse at Elbtorquartier, converting it into a museum but leaving its characteristic architecture intact. The ten floors or “decks” of the museum, covering 11,500 sqm, house an exhibition based on the Peter Tamm private maritime collection. Kaispeicher B and its adjacent building also accommodate the Institute of Shipping and Marine History and a library, including an archive.
Hamburg is gaining an incomparable landmark in the shape of the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall. Swiss star architects Herzog & de Meuron are now erecting a spectacular concert venue within the walls of mighty Kaispeicher A, a cocoa warehouse built between 1963 and 1966 to plans by architect Werner Kallmorgen. Its cubic shape and original brick façades remain intact. Thus by 2016, a worldwide unique architectonic hybrid will have emerged, also housing a five-star hotel, some 45 apartments and a parking garage.
The former warehouse building is crowned by an undulating, curved and inclining glass structure, up to 110m high, blending elements of historic port architecture and contemporary architecture, port tradition and the district’s new identity. A public plaza offering fantastic views of the harbor, HafenCity, the River Elbe and rest of the city will take shape at a height of 37m on the original brick building below the new glass structure.
The warehouse shell will be used for car parking, as well as backstage areas and space for musical education. The new glass superstructure will contain two auditoria holding audiences of 2,150 and 550 visitors respectively. The unveiling of the first designs by architects Herzog & de Meuron in 2003 caused an international sensation; yet their plans could only be realized through the unequalled commitment of Hamburg citizens, more than 7,500 of whom promised support and endowments for the construction of the concert hall. However, the city’s contribution will be considerable due to the rising cost of the building.
Another outstanding cultural project will be housed in a building created by Rem Koolhaas and his Office for Metropolitan Architecture (OMA). In early 2008, the Dutch architect presented his reworked designs for the Science Center. The structure, now conceived like a standing, angular ring, will be located right next to the River Elbe in Überseequartier. Emblematically the Science Center opens out toward the port as well as the city, symbolizing a gate into the world of knowledge. The exhibition concept resembles a global scientific experiment kit: the ten key topics will be given an exciting treatment that will make them understandable to children, teens and adults alike. The exhibition concept was developed in 2006 by project development company Groß + Partner in close cooperation with representatives from universities, experts from Hamburg and elsewhere, scientific journalists, officials of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, and HafenCity Hamburg GmbH. It includes many hands-on exhibits which are designed to be touched and tried out. Through playful exploration and independent experiments learning becomes an exciting experience.
Whether the Science Center will actually be built is still an open question, however. Since the public share of funding (once planned to be EUR 46 million) is no longer available, and operation of the center by the state no longer appears feasible, the Science Center is wholly dependent on the generosity of sponsors, which is not yet forthcoming.