Central, diverse and ground-breaking

East of Magdeburger Hafen, a very disparate quarter is coming to life, with many trailblazing buildings and uses

Around Magdeburger Hafen, an interesting knowledge quarter is growing with HafenCity University and the Elbe Arcades as well as other trend-setting projects such as the Ecumenial Forum and the Musicians' House (© ELBE&FLUT) Start slideshow

A lively and heterogeneous quarter is evolving between Magdeburger Hafen, Brooktorhafen and Am Lohsepark neighborhood whose very special atmosphere is not just due to the new HafenCity University (HCU) with its 2,500 students and various other pioneering undertakings. The urban planning concept for Elbtorquartier picks up on very different building typologies. While buildings of up to 70 m will be erected in the south, an elongated block structure approximately 170 m long to the east, which is also replicated in Magdeburger Hafen, ties into the existing built structure along Hongkongstrasse.

Distinctive bridge links west and east

From the Speicherstadt, a footway leads over León-Brücke bridge, designed by Austrian architects Dietmar Feichtinger and WTM Engineers of Hamburg, directly into the listed Kaispeicher B warehouse building (40). This is the oldest building in HafenCity, erected in 1879 to designs by Wilhelm Emil Meerwein and Bernhard Hanssen, and was thoroughly remodeled to plans by architects MRLV Markovic Ronai Voss. Since summer 2008 it has housed the International Maritime Museum Hamburg. 

The passageway through the museum leads out onto a spacious forecourt on whose waterfront the first harbor launch landing stage in central HafenCity was opened in summer 2012. As of late summer 2014, the adjoining promenade on the pier in front of the Elbe Arcades along Magdeburger Hafen leads across Buenos Aires quay and on into Baakenhafen neighborhood. This means that walkers and cyclists enjoy an unobstructed, car-free route from the Elbe embankment at Baakenhafen through to Ericcuspitze.

In the process they pass over the renovated Busanbrücke bridge crossing Magdeburger Hafen basin, the most significant east-west link for pedestrians and cyclists in central Hafen-City. The historic crossing connects western and central neighborhoods with eastern HafenCity. Like the surrounding promenades, this open space designed by Beth Galí is also paved with natural stone in a stripe pattern with plenty of space for all users.

Unique Elbe arcades    

In the northern part of the neighborhood, the customs head office for the City of Hamburg moved into its new location designed by Winking Froh Architekten (Hamburg/Berlin) in 2011 (46). Directly opposite, the newly built annex to expand the corporate headquarters of Gebr.Heinemann (42) will be occupied from summer 2016. The design, by Gerkan, Marg und Partner (gmp) of Hamburg, attaches a glass connecting building to the existing historic Heinemann warehouse that links it to the new extension with an underground garage, six floors of offices and two recessed upper stories. Construction matches up to the standards of the HafenCity gold Ecolabel.

South of Busanbrücke, the Elbe Arcades, opened at the end of 2013 and built to a design by Bob Gysin + Partner BGP Architekten (Zurich), line the whole eastern embankment of Magdeburger Hafen. It is one of the most innovative and ecological buildings in Europe. Rather than a straight promenade, the complex of buildings, which conforms to HafenCity gold Ecolabel criteria, features a 170 m-long flood-protected arcade, 8 m high and 10 m deep, which is integrated into the buildings, and fronted by a low public pier along Magdeburger Hafen basin. The roof of the ensemble provides a garden and play area for its residents.

The 130 apartments allow a wide variety of uses – from multigenerational homes through to residential and workspace lofts, as well as duplexes, and wheel-chair friendly units for seniors. Some of the apartments have attached ateliers, picking up on the Elbe Arcades’ character as a center of design in Hamburg. 

Several users, leading proponents of the industry, all of which have chosen to locate to the Elbe Arcades, are promoting this creative aspect: designxport, Hamburg’s primary design scene network, iF International Forum Design GmbH, which organizes the annual iF design competition award, and world-famous designer Peter Schmidt and his agency Agentur PSBZ. Thus a showcase for the creative sector is gradually emerging on Magdeburger Hafen; just across the way in Hongkongstrasse an increasing number of agencies and start-ups are moving in.

The southern part of the new building (45), topped by conspicuous wind rotors, is the preserve of Greenpeace. The environmental organization clusters various local and nationwide activities under one roof. Publicly accessible exhibits in the foyer showcase Greenpeace working topics and campaigns. The highlight is a 6 m totem pole – a present from Nuxalk Indians as a thank-you for Greenpeace’s work in their homeland.

This building, too, has an exemplary energy concept, combining high efficiency, low consumption and very high deployment of renewable energies, including geothermal and photovoltaic energy, as well as the wind rotors on the roof. 

University with Elbe views

A key role in the Elbtorquartier knowledge quarter is played by HafenCity University, which opened in April 2014 and is injecting new life into the area. The esthetically outstanding newbuild (54) at the entrance to Baakenhafen designed by architects Code Unique (Dresden) opens out simultaneously to the plaza in front of it, to Baakenhafen and to Lohsepark. The overall ecological concept for the building was also pre-certified with the gold HafenCity Ecolabel.

Right next dorr between HCU and Magdeburger Hafen, ECE of Hamburg and Strabag Real Estate are building the Watermark, Freeport and Shipyard building ensemble, offering around 32,000 gross floor area (GFA) on a 9,100 sqm site. Designs by Störmer Murphy and Partners (Hamburg), provide for an iconic landmark office tower around 70 m high containing 18 stories (52). The project at the water’s edge includes two further buildings (53) with space for some 46 apartments and ground-floor public amenities. The ensemble, combined with HCU, creates a public square. Completion is planned for mid-2018.

Ecumenical forum next to Musicians’ House

Other excellent projects such as the Ecumenical Forum (49a) on Shanghaiallee, opened in summer 2012, lend the quarter social and spiritual character. Since summer 2012 a total of 20 Christian churches have been behind this joint religious project – unique in Germany – with its meeting place and café on the publicly accessible ground floor, and chapel as a haven of tranquility. The upper stories are occupied by the Laurentius convent and an ecumenical residential community. 

Right next door, the Musicians’ House (50) was successfully completed in fall 2014. Artistic and creative people can live out their dream of creative interaction and collectively making music within their own partly soundproofed and flexibly usable four walls. 

Stadthaushotel (48) will be Europe’s largest inclusive hotel. Forty of the 80 jobs will go to people with a disability. The 180 rooms and restaurant of the three-star hotel will be particularly attractive to people with reduced mobility. The Jugend hilft Jugend association is managing the project, with financial support from private sources and the City of Hamburg. The architectural competition for the building was won by Huke-Schubert Berge Architekten (Hamburg). Long completed, on the other hand, is the first residential building to be awarded the gold Ecolabel, the private joint building venture NIDUS on Shanghaiallee (49). 

Elbtorquartier has very good public transport connections. Messberg U1 subway station is to the north, outside HafenCity, while to the south the new U4 subway line began regular services in August 2013 to HafenCity University station, which has won awards for its lighting concept.

Shanghaiallee, developed as a central artery between the Speicherstadt and Überseeallee, is becoming an urban business and residential street. In the interests of road safety, since its final completion in fall 2016, bicycle traffic on this metropolitan boulevard has been channeled along special cycle lanes beside the roadway, which dovetail into the surrounding cycle path network. Ancillary spaces have been adapted to urban demands: with generously proportioned sidewalks with opportunities for special uses, bicycle parking stands, delivery and handicapped parking bays, and several paid parking slots for clients of surrounding shops.

Neighborhood profile

  • Area
    9 hectares
    Total GFA: 200,000 sqm
  • Jobs
    c. 3,700
  • Commercial uses
    Office, retail, catering, services, hotel, knowledge
  • Homes
  • Special institutions
    Elbe Arcades, HafenCity University, International Maritime Museum Hamburg, Ecumenical Forum,
    designxport hamburg
  • Development timeframe
    2007 till 2018
    (plot 51 held back as logistics area for construction of Überseequartier) 

HafenCity InfoCenter Kesselhaus

A presentation of everything currently happening between the Elbe bridges and Kehrwiederspitze promontory is on view in the InfoCenter in Kesselhaus at Sandtorkai 30 more