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Green identity for eastern HafenCity

The picture emerging of Baakenhafen neighborhood, a highly attractive new residential and leisure quarter wedged between the Elbe River and the largest harbor basin in HafenCity Hamburg, is becoming ever clearer. In a competition to plan the open spaces, 29 top European planning teams submitted detailed concepts for squares, promenades and special leisure spots in this eastern HafenCity quarter. The jury was won over by the multifunctional, public open spaces with their potential to develop identity of place in the prize-winning concept entered by Atelier Loidl (Berlin) – especially the design of the green play and leisure island in Baakenhafen.

The urban planning competition for Baakenhafen neighborhood was decided in September 2011 and the next major planning step is based on it: on April 25, 2012, the competition to design the open spaces in Baakenhafen was also concluded. The 21-hectare quarter in the east of HafenCity Hamburg is a mixed use residential neighborhood offering around 1800 apartments and 4600 jobs in mixed use buildings. However, the area is also characterized by a dense network of open spaces in spectacular locations, including a promenade some 900m in length beside the Elbe, four neighborhood squares, as well as a 1.5-ha play and leisure island in the harbor basin. The competition to design the outdoor facilities was launched by HafenCity Hamburg GmbH in cooperation with the Hamburg Ministry of Urban Development and Environment in October 2011.

Participants were asked to develop a design concept to create attractive, lively and safe open spaces which also took into consideration individuals’ requirements for quiet and privacy. The nature of this leafy urban quarter was to harmonize with the urban density and variety of uses that characterize HafenCity in general. Design of the artificial play and leisure island took a central role in this – as envisaged in the revised Masterplan. The main elements of the island include a 3000m² play area, a neighborhood play and community building, as well as integration of an artwork by Thomas Schütte, Tower of Talkers. The Elbe promenade at Kirchenpauerkai is also equally significant to the quarter’s open spaces. This leafy promenade forms a key connection between Lohsepark in central HafenCity and Entenwerder Elbpark. Last but not least are local squares, which will perform an important social function in the neighborhood, and the cross-linkage between the two quay promontories of Baakenhafen Nord and Baakenhafen Süd.

The deciding factors in the winning design were its stand-alone concept, clarity of form and exciting topography. A variety of appropriate solutions were tailored to the various spaces and situations. In the shape of the play and leisure island, the plan creates a new element of landscape which fits perfectly into the maritime surroundings. The striking form and topography of the island makes space for flexibly usable open spaces for a variety of user groups, as well as a very special playground for children. The conception for the layout of the Elbe promenade is convincing whilst the consistent design of the local squares has a harmonizing effect. In addition the plans foresee a unifying but inconspicuous inclusion of obligatory ramps and the road leading through the squares.

The open space design will undergo additional revision during coming months. Renovation of the historic quays has already begun, kicking off the development of Baakenhafen quarter. In coming months works will also begin on the new neighborhood’s central infrastructure axis – the bridge across Baakenhafen. The first construction sites will be put out to tender in the third quarter of 2012.