City Topography

Open space in western HafenCity

The western end of this new part of town is blessed with a variety of urban open spaces: squares, large and small, promenades running beside and onto the water, as well as two leafy parks. Large parts of the area were landscaped by Spanish architects

Photo shows the Marco Polo Terraces

Marco Polo Terraces in summer (© ELBE&FLUT) Start slideshow

Architectural firm EMBT Arquitectes Associats designed most of the largely completed urban spaces in the western section of HafenCity, an elaborate and esthetic interplay between water and land; severe forms typical of a port contrast with airier Mediterranean influences. Two large terraced squares were created at the heads of the Sandtorhafen and Grasbrookhafen harbor basins. The Magellan Terraces (5,600 sqm), completed in 2005, are stepped down to the water on several levels, resembling an amphitheater. With its rather hard surfaces left over from the port era and unusual architecture, this plaza has a strong urban (maritime) character with multiple functions. 

From the terraces, the gaze sweeps across to the Traditional Ship Harbor in Sandtorhafen, opened in 2008; 5,800 sqm of floating pontoons rise and fall with the tide, providing permanent moorings for up to 30 historic watercraft. The Marco Polo Terraces (7,800 sqm), opened in 2007, break down into smaller elements – grass islands, wooden decks and trees. They appear more sheltered, green and soft. Promenades along the quays link these varied urban spaces. 

South of the Marco Polo Terraces, a stroll leads to the Elbterrassen steps, where cruise ship fans congregate, after passing through Grosser Grasbrook and the publicly accessible mall in Unilever House. Vasco da Gama plaza, also adjoining a promenade, is a popular local meeting place with outside eating areas and space for basketball.

Spacious green spaces and play areas 

In the northwest, Sandtorpark, covering around 6,000 sqm, with its mounds, trees and a grassy play area designed for a variety of uses, is the urban planning element unifying the materials and ground surface design used for the Magellan Terraces with those around the open space surrounding the park. The green area, opened in April 2011, is also intensively used by children from the neighboring Katharinen school. Grasbrookpark, at the interface with Strandkai neighborhood, was inaugurated in summer 2013. With a play ship as its centerpiece, this leafy play park is popular as a meeting place well beyond HafenCity limits.