Living in the Center: HafenCity as a Place of Neighborly Coexistence
With its future population of some 12,000 residents, HafenCity is reinforcing the “living” in city-center life. Urbanity and neighborly coexistence complement each other
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 the luxury segment through to publicly subsidized housing and also takes in the special requirements of groups such as musicians, designers or seniors. Building cooperatives and joint building ventures play a special role in the development of living in HafenCity, since they serve a mid-price segment of the 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. The fact that many households are prepared to pay more is 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 per cent, 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 per cent, against 4.7 per cent in Hamburg in general. One-person households account for 41.3 per cent, well below the Hamburg average of 53.6 per cent, and a lot lower than the average for inner districts of the city, where it is usually more than 60 per cent.
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. Three play cum community houses (Grasbrookpark, Lohsepark, Baakenhafen leisure zone) are currently in preparation and will be an important addition. Strandkai will also feature a children’s arts center.
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 where attractive activities, such as culture and events, are just around the corner, all adding up to a socially alive environment. Their direct neighbors could be young, career-driven couples and single people. Residents were attracted to HafenCity by its situation on the waterfront, the individual home types, as well as 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, 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.hafen-citynews.de), regular local get-togethers, special occasions such as a flea market or a summer fête, and a series of courtyard parties. Störtebeker SV sports club offers a wide range of activities, while Spielhaus HafenCity e.V., a parents’ initiative, has organized a new play area for children.
Identification with the new district is actively promoted by HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, which encourages such initiatives and seeks intensive 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. Participation workshops for school pupils were organized in connection with the development of Grasbrookpark and Lohse park, for instance. In a future workshop, the school committee gets to grips with the actual needs of children and youngsters in the public urban sphere. In the course of lively discussions, ideas are assembled, discussed and supervised throughout the realization phase and to implementation.
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, also increasingly in cooperation with surrounding districts. The network is thus making a real contribution to neighborly coexistence – in HafenCity and beyond.