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Grasbrook: Hamburg to get a new city district

Hamburg’s Mayor, Olaf Scholz, the Senator for Urban Development, Dr Dorothee Stapelfeld, the CEO of HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, Prof. Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg, and the outgoing Chief Planning Officer, Prof. Jörn Walter unveiled the plans for a new city district at HafenCity University. The projected development will be opposite eastern HafenCity, forming a bridge to the Elbe islands to the south and better integrating Veddel district

Grasbrook: Space for about 3,000 homes and 16,000 jobs

Grasbrook: Space for about 3,000 homes and 16,000 jobs (© Hosoya Schaefer Architects)

Plans foresee homes for about 6,000 residents – young families and people of all ages and backgrounds – plus 16,000 workplaces, shopping facilities, a primary school and children’s daycare centers. As well as homes, the new district will offer space for new offices, commercial buildings, research facilities and laboratories. Existing buildings will also be used here. This urban development project, covering about 46 hectares and with about 880,000 sqm of gross floor area above ground, will be on a scale equivalent to a good third of HafenCity. Several kilometers of publicly accessible waterfront will be created, combined with attractive green space and high-quality public urban areas. A mixed district of the kind every lively big city needs is planned here. It will be a place to link old and new, with sensibly graduated residential, work and port uses.

Hamburg already published detailed plans for a new residential and office district here as part of its bid to stage the Olympic Games. Involving top city planners and architects, the plans attracted a great deal of international attention. Many technical aspects of the project were investigated at the time, so this legacy of the bid can now be used to develop the city further.

Grasbrook district is expected to comprise three quarters: the Moldauhafen residential neighborhood between the two waterfronts of the River Elbe and Moldau harbor basin, the mixed-use Freihafenelbquartier, and Hafentorquartier – framing the Saalehafen basin and forming the south bank of Moldauhafen basin – reserved for varied commercial purposes in a mixture of new and existing buildings. Here individual projects can be developed step by step, without regard to noise control, since buildings in this area will be for commercial use only. This quarter also acts as a transition to the port-use area that will still account for the lion’s share (53 ha) of Kleiner Grasbrook.

The spatial development of the quarters cannot progress in a single direction, although in the first phase there will already be an emphasis on the Moldauhafen neighborhood, with individual developments in the other quarters. Efficient connections to the subway and rapid transit station at Elbbrücken will be provided initially by buses, making the area easily reachable from the outset. The subway route to the south will be kept clear of development and later subway construction planned for and secured contractually.

A number of agreements have been reached to enable concrete planning to begin. The Czech Republic and Hamburg agreed in Prague in June 2017 that the land leased by the Czech Republic around the Moldau and Saale harbor basins will be exchanged in the coming five years for land in the Kuwerder Hafen area. The Czech Republic will invest in the new area. An international working group will deal with outstanding issues concerning the land exchange.

The Unternehmensverband Hafen Hamburg, the Industrieverband Hamburg and Hamburg’s Ministry of Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation signed a letter of intent on the use of the Überseezentrum and adjacent areas on August 1, 2017. The Überseezentrum area will be rededicated as a mixed-use area for living and working. The adjacent space in Kleiner Grasbrook and what is today the Czech harbor will remain within the port area but will be open for research, development, office and manufacturing uses. Kleiner Grasbrook will thus continue to be home to port activities, and the lease with Unikai will be extended. Businesses based there will have prospects on their sites and will be covered in the case of possible relocation. The design and use of the buildings will act as a protective barrier between residential development and port use.

In the new Grasbrook district – as in all larger residential developments – one third of the homes will be publicly subsidized. Also, high environmental standards, comparable to those in eastern HafenCity, will apply to all buildings here. These include the requirement to incorporate solar energy generation into the buildings and high e-mobility standards. Forty percent of parking spaces in residential buildings will have to be equipped with charging stations, for instance, while residential parking will be expected to allocate 30 per cent of spaces to carsharing.

City-owned HafenCity Hamburg GmbH will be responsible for developing the new Grasbrook district. The Ministries of Economic Affairs, Transport and Innovation and Environment and Energy retain all their planning responsibilities. Following an exhaustive survey and agreement on strategic themes, an urban development plan will be developed on the basis of an urban planning ideas competition. This will be followed by the formal planning process (land-use plan, zoning plan). Clearing the sites and developing the infrastructure may be able to get under way as early as 2019.