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HafenCity "bridge-building": First mayor Olaf Scholz opens festivities at Magdeburger Hafen

The picture shows a bridge over the Magdeburger Hafen

A bridge over the Magdeburger Hafen (© ELBE&FLUT)

Now that realization of the western neighborhoods is more or less complete, the development of HafenCity has arrived in its center. On 10 and 11 June, a big public celebration marks the opening of the new squares, promenades and bridges around Magdeburger Hafen.  The idea behind the event is "bridge-building" since the new central area around Magdeburger Hafen bridges the gap between HafenCity and the existing city center. Now the Inner Alster and Magdeburger Hafen are only 900 meters apart and can be quickly and easily reached on foot via the central "Domplatz Axis" in just minutes.  The first mayor of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz, opened the bridge with official celebrations on 10 June. On Friday afternoon, first mayor of Hamburg Olaf Scholz opened the festivities surrounding the HafenCity "bridge-building".

During a walk along the new Domplatz Axis, stretching the mere 900 meters between Jungfernstieg and Magdeburger Hafen, Scholz saw for himself the high quality and attractions of the route. It now leads directly from the city center to the Elbe. Afterwards Scholz gave the starting signal for a two-day public celebration of the opening of Magdeburger Hafen. Together with HafenCity Hamburg GmbH chief executive Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg and Beth Galí of architects BB + GG Arquitectes (Barcelona), he launched a bottle containing a congratulatory message and some symbolic gifts into the water. For the many invited guests and visitors to Hamburg there was a street party to celebrate the HafenCity "bridge-building" ceremony from around 3pm.

HafenCity Hamburg GmbH CEO Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg said: "HafenCity’s development has now arrived at Magdeburger Hafen. The bridge is open; HafenCity and the existing city center are growing together. We warmly invite all HafenCity employees and residents, all Hamburgers and visitors to the city to join us in celebrating this step forward."

In coming years the new connection from Jungfernstieg via Domplatz, through the Speicherstadt to HafenCity’s center at Magdeburger Hafen will become a new central artery running between the Alster Lake and the Elbe River. To achieve this, a lot has to be done, not only in HafenCity but also in the "old city". This includes an entire rebuild of the new pathway along the Domplatz Axis to make it more attractive to pedestrians and cyclists. The constitutive criteria of the scheme, to be planned and carried out by Hamburg’s road, bridge and waterway department, are the clear, safe and spacious configuration of path surfaces, squares and crossings, as well as the planting of a double row of trees on the eastern side. A uniform lighting and furnishing concept will give the route a new identity, make it more attractive even after dark and create new places to linger, for example next to the St. Petri church.

HafenCity is not developing into a city district in isolation. With today’s city it will one day comprise one large urban city space between the Alster and Elbe. HafenCity effectively extends the current inner city down to the Elbe River, which increases the city’s area by 40 per cent. But HafenCity is a great deal more than expanded area – it is triggering new impulses for an urbane, mixed-use and attractive city center

In western neighborhoods around Sandtorhafen, HafenCity’s dynamism and exuberance is already clearly noticeable. HafenCity is already an established place to live and work. Some 1,700 people live in HafenCity and another 7,200 work in its 300-plus businesses. In the meantime, development in HafenCity is increasingly taking place in its center around Magdeburger Hafen. The northern section of Überseequartier is more or less finished and construction of the southern part has already started. East of Magdeburger Hafen, development is taking off in Elbtorquartier.

Completion of the new open spaces on Magdeburger Hafen marks the start of HafenCity central development. The result is an ensemble of walkways and plazas with an overall area of 10,300sq.m. Joined by bridges, the new urban spaces in central HafenCity create a variety of new connections and are also new, attractive places to spend time in. In addition, the new open spaces closely knit Überseequartier, Elbtorquartier and Brooktorquartier together.

A promenade runs along Osakaallee on the western side of Magdeburger Hafen, 330-meters long and up to 12 meters wide. Ramps, steps and slopes lead from flood-secure Osakaallee, which is raised to 8m, down to the historic quay, which lies at 5.7m above sea-level. The variation in height allows space for a pavilion on the embankment which presents exhibitions on sustainability topics related to HafenCity.

At the head of Magdeburger Hafen a new plaza has been created which is the most important entrée to HafenCity – an attractive place looking south to the harbor basin, with distant views down to the Elbe. A new footbridge connects the plaza to Brooktorkai promenade which leads past Germanischer Lloyd to the new Spiegel building. Here a 30-meter stone "sofa" design feature invites passersby to rest awhile.

Both the Osakaallee promenade and Bei St. Annen square are paved with natural granite slabs intersected by strips of paving stone recycled from old quay areas. A similar combination is also to be found in Überseequartier and on the forecourt of the International Maritime Museum Hamburg – so that even in design terms, the various open spaces visually integrate into one large urban area.

More than 90 trees have been planted, including willows, purple leaf plum and Russian olive, which offer changing pools of sun and shade. Numerous seats offer the chance to rest. In the evenings they are lit from beneath by LED lamps which create an enchanting atmosphere.

HafenCity’s lighting concept was conceived by the Hamburg road, bridge and waterways department which is constantly developing it. There is always a careful weighing up between the requirements of design, ecology and economy. With its public lighting, Hamburg convincingly proves its right to the title of European Green Capital.

Design of the central urban spaces was drafted by the architect Beth Galì and her firm BB+GG Arquitectes (Barcelona), winner of the 2006 international open space competition.