The HafenCity project
A new downtown is growing: HafenCity – currently Europe’s largest inner-city development project – is a blueprint for the development of a European city on the waterfront
Almost half of the construction volume foreseen in the Masterplan is completed, under construction, or secured by property sales and binding building contracts (© Fotofrizz; Illustration: Michael Korol) Start slideshow
Hamburg is setting new standards in developing a new city area along the Elbe – at least in Europe. On an area of 157 hectares, a lively city with a maritime air is taking shape, bringing together workplace and residential uses, culture and leisure, tourism and retail facilities – quite unlike downtowns dominated by nothing but offices and shops. What sets it apart from other major urban international development projects on the water is the area’s very central location and the high expectations of quality reflected, for instance, in its fine-grained mix of uses, standards of urbanity and ecological sustainability, and innovative development process.
The intensive interaction between land and water can also be regarded as unique, for HafenCity is not surrounded by dikes, nor cut off from the water. With the exception of the quays and promenades, the whole area will be raised to between 8 and 9m above sea level. The concept of building on artificial compacted mounds (warfts) lends an area once dominated by port and industrial uses a new, characteristic topography, retaining access to the water and the typical port atmosphere, while guaranteeing protection from extreme floods. At the same time, the objectives of HafenCity development are very wide-ranging.
Definition of a completely new urban district
The task in hand is to define a new downtown in both urban planning and architectural terms. More than 2.32 million sqm gross floor area (GFA) will be built. HafenCity consists almost wholly of new buildings, since not many old ones were retained or worth preserving, as the site of HafenCity was largely occupied by single-story sheds. This is still the case in eastern HafenCity. A total 6,000 residential units for 12,000 residents are being built, as well as business premises offering in excess of 45,000 job opportunities, plus restaurants and bars, cultural and leisure amenities, retail facilities, parks, plazas and promenades.
The urban planning and architectural reinterpretation of the place centers on established structures. Its milieu is informed by the Speicherstadt, port structures and a few existing buildings, as well as the widespread use of red clinker brick.