Culture & Leisure

Sport-center HafenCity

Staying in motion - HafenCity continually invites its residents and many visitors to do just that. It’s not unusual for sport opportunities to be built into local concepts in many places. Sport often opens up a new dimension of urban experience. But there are also specially conceived sport facilities taking shape here, often in the fresh air or on the water.

Photo shows a young man practicing parkour in front of the Unilever Building

For lovers of the trend sport parkour, the built environment is a sport arena; they find HafenCity has lots to offer (© Miguel Ferraz 2012)

The urban planning concept behind HafenCity makes it a place of mobility: leisure, residential and workplace uses are closely enmeshed, often with very short distances between them. Thanks to the dense network of walking and cycling routes, cars can often be left in the garage.

The urban spaces along the waterfront alone will add up in future to more than ten kilometers in length. As a rule they are landscaped as promenades, but also sometimes as squares. They will be used by people of all ages, not just to get from A to B, but also for the sake of keeping on the move. For the urban spaces are inviting to joggers or cyclists, as well as walkers or just for a stroll.

Each of these forms of movement brings with it a new consciousness of the city: many of the impressions received during fast movement gel into an exciting and ever-changing overall image, while slower motion allows more time to appreciate detail. Moving through urban spaces opens up new perspectives because the many steps, terraces and ramps continually provide a fresh interpretation of levels in HafenCity.

Children and teenagers take possession of the new district through sport; by clambering onto the flood-secure plinths of buildings, for example - aided by occasional jutting bricks that give a hold on the walls. Others spend their time rollerblading - on the Magellan Terraces, for example. The first children’s playground has already opened on Grosser Grasbrook, it will be followed by others.
In cooperation with the Skateboard e.V. club, an area of 600 sqm near the HafenCity Cruise Center has been converted for skateboarding. The club will initially be allowed to use the space for a year from June 2012. But permission to use it is likely to be extended until the site is handed over to a developer with an option for planning and construction.
HafenCity Hamburg GmbH has also financed the obstacles which skaters use for their jumps on the skateboarding circuit. The Skateboard club is running the facility. The obstacles  can be cleared away for major events such as the HafenCity Cruise Days when large numbers of visitors flood HafenCity and Strandkai in particular. Skateboarding on other squares in HafenCity is still possible under the conditions prevailing there; the new skater space is therefore a bonus.

Other urban spaces have already been conceived specially for sport use: boules fans can pursue their passion in Grosser Grasbrook, too, while the court laid out on Vasco da Gama square is a magnet for basketballers. A large area for sport will be created in Oberhafen neighborhood but as this part of HafenCity is still being used for rail cargo handling, construction cannot start until 2014.It will be laid out for school sports for around 60 classes (two primary and one secondary school) and also to serve general school and leisure needs.

The district’s own sport club, Störtebeker SV, offers sports facilities for HafenCity as well as for neighboring Altstadt and Neustadt. The soccer division in particular is already very active.It also offers fitness for children and adults, karate and tennis. The club has access, for example, to the sport hall in the building of the new Katharinenschule primary, which is available when school finishes or at weekends for uses of this kind.

But the real "active" neighborhood is planned to be Baakenhafen, in east HafenCity. Exactly which individual projects will be sited here is not yet finalized, but conception has reached an intensive phase. But what is certain is that, for leisure sports, versatile facilities are planned, some of which will be novel to Hamburg. So it is likely that they will attract plenty of users from all over the Metropolitan Region. In addition to classical facilities, there may be a floating lido (swimming pool). In winter it could be anchored in Baakenhafen and used as a skating rink. Also on and over the water: a parcours course or high wire adventure garden could be installed.

For older people, for instance, a shared playground is conceivable: practice equipment would not be arranged like a keep-fit trail, but grouped in two areas. This would give the feeling of communication while each group was enjoying its own sport.
An indoor sport center, for team sports such as indoor soccer, handball, hockey, basketball or volleyball, could be used in any sort of weather. The concept for Baakenhafen would be complemented by a spa hotel, fitness-cum-wellness club or a waterside sauna with views of Baakenhafen or the Elbe River.

Sports uses in the new district are therefore just as urban as maritime - in much the same way as the whole of HafenCity is shaped by these influences.