Fine-grained and alive

Am Sandtorkai/Dalmannkai in northwest HafenCity was the first quarter to be completed

The aerial photography shows the Am Sandtorkai / Dalmannkai quarter

The architecture reflects the variety of the neighborhood: on Dalmannkai alone, the 15 buildings were planned by 27 builder-developers and 26 architects' offices (© ELBE&FLUT) Start slideshow

The Am Sandtorkai/Dalmannkai quarter, which surrounds Sandtorhafen, has stood out as a vibrant urban neighborhood for a long time, and was all but completed when the nearby Elbphilharmonie opened. Many people have been residing, working, and living in the first neighborhood of the HafenCity, which was completed in 2009. Eight new buildings are located at Am Sandtorkai (1–8) to the north of the traditional central harbor basin. The areas directly across from the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Speicherstadt are split about equally into office and residential spaces. The long promontory of Dalmannkai extends from the south of the harbor basin and features 15 newly-built ensembles (9–23) which are predominantly residential units.

Just like virtually everywhere else in HafenCity, the fivemeter-tall ground floor is occupied by businesses, galleries, restaurants, cafés, bistros, and bars. These varying types of spaces are always interspersed in a ‘fine-grained’ way; usually, these types of amenities coexist within the same building. This amalgamation of approximately 1,000 residents and 50 companies, retail establishments, and eateries who call this district home has created a lively and compartmentalized district that alternates between urban and suburban in equal parts. The traditional harbor, which also forms the spatial center of the quarter, has become a berth for up to 30 historic vessels pertaining to the Hamburg Maritime Foundation. In terms of urban development, Am Sandtorkai/Dalmannkai is framed by squares and promenades which – like almost every open space throughout Western HafenCity – were designed by EMBT (Barcelona, Spain). They artfully create an interplay between water and land, and contrast austere, maritime forms with light, Mediterranean influences. BHF landscape architects from Kiel were responsible for the design of the plinth and the promenade at Sandtorkai.

Since January 2017, the quarter has been home to the Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg’s newest landmark. The influx of visitors to this internationally renowned concert hall has exceeded all expectations, resulting in long ticket lines, concerts sold out within minutes, and an open plaza which recorded around 4.5 million visitors in the first year instead of the forecast 1.7 million annual visitors – roughly the same number of people that visited the Sistine Chapel in Rome in the same period. Construction in accordance with plans drawn up by Herzog & de Meuron lasted almost ten years. Now, the hall’s wave-crested 110-m tall glass construction crowns the painstakingly maintained cubiform base and imposing façade of what was once the Kaispeicher A warehouse. Located in the Elbe river, it lies exposed on the tip of Dalmannkai, yet simultaneously nestled within a high-density urban ensemble of buildings.

Neighborhood profile:

  • Size: 10.9 ha
  • Total GFA: 257,000 m²
  • Development period: 2003 to 2009
  • Jobs: approx. 2,700 (incl. Elbphilharmonie)
  • Commercial uses: Offices, retail, foodservices
  • Apartments: 746 (in addition to 45 in the Elbphilharmonie)