Living in the Center: HafenCity as a Place of Neighborly Coexistence
Western HafenCity has become an urban place, home to around 2,000 people. Neighbors here have very different backgrounds and lifestyles, yet networking among them is already advanced
The city district has attributes to appeal to everyone - whether families, young couples, single people or seniors (© Daniel Barthmann) Start slideshow
The variety of housing in HafenCity is already quite exceptional. It includes a small-scale mix of apartments to rent or to buy in different price brackets, although the spectrum ranges from publicly subsidized housing through to the luxury segment and also takes in the special requirements of groups such as musicians, designers or seniors. Building cooperatives and joint building ventures have played a special role in the development of living in HafenCity, since they serve a mid-price segment of the new-build market and often act as an important catalyst in formation of a neighborly culture.
Special factors in HafenCity, such as flood protection, foundations of buildings and high ecological standards, mean that rentals are EUR 2-3 per sqm higher than for comparable new-builds in the inner city, yet the spectrum of living concepts, prices and architectural styles available attracts many people to live in HafenCity. Many households are prepared to pay more because having workplaces, daily requirements, schools and leisure facilities in the vicinity makes for much lower mobility costs and a better work-life balance.
Family friendly housing
Families particularly appreciate the opportunity to be able to combine family and job easily and flexibly. Here the attraction is not just the availability of jobs, but also the high-quality child care on offer since the Katharinen primary school and neighboring kindergarten opened in 2009. Another four day-care centers are in the pipeline in central HafenCity. The proportion of households including children under 18 is 12.8 percent, which is comparable to other districts close to the inner city. Families with young children are particularly strongly represented. The overall quota of children under five in HafenCity is 5.1 percent, against 4.7 percent in Hamburg in general. One-person households account for 41.3 percent, well below the Hamburg average of 53.6 percent, and a lot lower than the average for inner districts of the city, where it is usually more than 60 percent.
With the development of additional attractive residential locations appealing to all generations, such as Lohsepark neighborhood and Baakenhafen, demand from families will increase further. To meet that potential need, a “gymnasium” secondary school, another primary school as well as more kindergartens will be added in the next few years. There are also three playcum-community houses (Grasbrookpark, Lohsepark, Baakenhafen leisure zone) and on Strandkai a large children’s arts center integrated into ground floor uses; more sports grounds will be added gradually.
Families, retirees and young couples
Another strongly represented group of residents is couples aged 50+, who want a change after their children have moved out, as well as pensioners, who pick HafenCity as their place of retirement. The wish to open a new (residential) chapter in their lives has led them to choose a place to live which offers cultural events, a socially alive environment and direct neighbors including young, career-driven couples and single people. Residents were particularly attracted to HafenCity by its prestigious waterfront situation, individual home types, and good accessibility to the main station and airport.
Encouraging initiative and dialog
Whether for families, sports cracks or the culture-inclined, a stimulating social infrastructure has already developed in HafenCity. Many residents are active in the community, organizing the digital residents’ forum hafencity-leben.de, for instance, or the HafenCity-Zeitung, a paper started by one of the locals on his own initiative (www.hafencity-news.de), regular local get-togethers, special occasions such as a flea market or neighborhood parties. While Störtebeker SV sports club offers a wide range of sports, Spielhaus HafenCity e.V. looks after the interests of HafenCity’s youngest residents; members of the business seniors group Alt hilft Jung e.V. offer the benefits of their years of experience for free to fledgling entrepreneurs. HafenCity Hamburg GmbH actively nurtures identification with the new district, supporting initiatives and seeking dialog with residents, whether through direct contact or through regular information and discussion events, for example.
HafenCity Hamburg GmbH regards it as a responsibility not only to establish a diverse mix of uses and social milieus, but to make sure that, even where friction arises, equilibrium is maintained. Thus school pupils were involved in planning Grasbrookpark and Lohsepark, for instance. In a future workshop, a school committee tried to pinpoint the actual needs of children and adolescents in a public urban place. Lively discussions threw up ideas, which were debated and followed through in the realization phase and until implemented.
The Netzwerk HafenCity association has been a force in sharing responsibility for HafenCity’s development since 2009. The network is explicit that it is not a vehicle for realizing the specific interests of individuals, but rather for finding cooperative solutions to everyday issues between residents and businesses. In addition, it initiates events and festivities, increasingly also in cooperation with surrounding districts. The network is thus making a real contribution to neighborly coexistence – inHafenCity and beyond.