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Expo Real 2014: HafenCity continues setting new benchmarks for major urban development projects

HafenCity Hamburg GmbH is present at Expo Real in Munich once again this year. HafenCity is also the City of Hamburg’s principal stand partner from October 6 to 10, 2014. This year the spotlight is on eastern HafenCity and the continuing development in the western areas.

HafenCity Hamburg GmbH is present at Expo Real in Munich once again this year. (© HWF/Stefan Groenveld)

HafenCity, one of the most significant and ambitious inner-city waterfront and downtown projects anywhere, has huge progress in development to report again in 2014. One aspect of this is that the contours of the eastern HafenCity neighborhoods are becoming clearer. A new, socially mixed “urban village” is developing beside Baakenhafen harbor basin, with more than 3000 living spaces and more than 15,000 jobs. In the first phase of development, residents will have access to a primary school, child daycare center, and sports and recreational facilities – as well as many neighborhood amenities and facilities serving all everyday needs. Exclusive options on the first two residential packages involving around 800 apartments (including four of the six WaterHouses) were granted to 11 new house-building companies in September. The architectural competitions will begin soon. Construction of a 1.6 hectare artificial recreation peninsula in Baakenhafen harbor kicked off in late summer – the last major infrastructure project contributing to the creation of the green quality of the neighborhood, and a public and central place. At the same time, work on extending the U4 subway towards Elbbrücken is continuing apace – operations on the new stretch of line will start at the end of 2018. The rapid transit (S-Bahn) station planned at Elbbrücken will connect up the HafenCity subway and the rapid transit rail network and the east of HafenCity to the regional transportation network.

Professor Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg, chief executive at HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, comments: “In the next few years eastern HafenCity will develop an identity and an urban quality of its own, characterized by its efficient and climate-friendly urban structure, a futuristic mobility concept and the “green” quality of its buildings. At the same time, there will be more orientation towards families and an increasing social mix through the addition of student accommodation, as well as one third subsidized housing; inclusive residential concepts will also be offered by specialized agencies.”

In addition to eastern HafenCity, further development of western areas is also in focus. Completion of architectural competitions for four buildings containing 500 or more apartments and important public amenities on the prominent site at the end of Strandkai opposite the Elbphilharmonie Concert House on the Elbe embankment, mean that a considerable portion of Hamburg’s waterfront will be redefined in coming months. Adjacent to the site to the east, work will start early next year at the latest on construction of real estate group Engel & Völkers’ 15-story hybrid building, designed by renowned New York architects office Richard Meier & Partners. This will form a new cityscape visible from the water in conjunction with the Unilever building and Marco Polo Tower, continuing on from the Elbphilharmonie (ready in 2016) – the first skyline to be planned almost simultaneously on the waterfront in the center of a European city.

In the coming months construction of another ambitious project gets under way on Grasbrook park, including around 150 apartments (cooperative housing, subsidized accommodation, studios and student apartments), a children’s daycare center, as well as space for an organic restaurant and retail uses. Next door in northern Überseequartier, the Cinnamon residential tower and renovation of the former harbor master’s office, Alten Hafenamt, are the last buildings here to assume their final contours. With the start of construction on the last undeveloped plot in the northern segment of the neighborhood at the turn of the year 2014/15, a very diverse mix with homes, a hotel and a premium movie theater will take shape between Sandtorkai and Tokiostrasse.

At the same time, the change of ownership of southern Überseequartier is under preparation, so as to put the project on a new, solid institutional and financial footing. In the process, although important basic principles of the planning thus far will be retained, conceptual and site-related opportunities will also be exploited to enhance the special attractions of HafenCity through retailing, cruise tourism activities, entertainment and housing, while cutting down the proportion of office space.

Other projects such as the Elbtorquartier construction project and those in Am Lohsepark quarter are also pulling ahead. The leading wholesale and retailing group Gebr. Heinemann is enlarging its corporate headquarters on Brooktorhafen and oil concern Marquard & Bahls is building a new head office for up to 700 employees on Shanghaiallee. Meanwhile in the architecturally impressive residential projects on Lohsepark itself, a mix of subsidized and privately financed apartments, inclusive residential communities, student housing, a hotel use, three kindergartens, a medical center, as well as building cooperatives and commercial ground-floor uses is developing – with the added lure of the roof-top garden landscapes with terraces, gazebos, glasshouses and viewpoints. Work continues at the same time on completion of four-hectare Lohsepark, the green public park at the center of HafenCity.

Summarizing the positive development of recent years, Professor Bruns-Berentelg says: “HafenCity is becoming even more diverse and now fulfills even the toughest expectations of urbanity and sustainability to be demanded of a large urban development project.”