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HafenCity in 2016: major building projects, green spaces and long-term strategic challenges

HafenCity will continue to develop with great momentum 2016 and 2017: from the Elbphilharmonie, whose opening is approaching, Strandkai and various projects in the center, to the eastern extremity of Baakenhafen, HafenCity will be characterized by building work.

Urban development and innovation – HafenCity develops its long-term sustainability strategies further.

Urban development and innovation: HafenCity develops its long-term sustainability strategies further. (© HafenCity Hamburg GmbH/Hampel)

Construction on 156,000 m² Gross Floor Area (GFA) will get under way 2016 alone, while exclusive options are being assigned on a further approx. 95,000 m² GFA mainly for residential development and probably about 75,000 m² GFA for commercial use. But it is not just building in HafenCity that will be making a great leap forward; its green, social and innovative qualities will also be developing apace. When Lohsepark opens July 2016, the green qualities of HafenCity’s urban environment will emerge visibly and tangibly alongside its blue, water-focused ones. At the same time, Baakenpark will increasingly take on real, physical form. The introduction of specially developed neighborhood management and a sustainable mobility concept for at least 3,000 households in its eastern neighborhoods see HafenCity heading in innovative directions when it comes to long-term integration of residents and local businesses as well as to sustainable ecological development.

After only 15 years since building started, HafenCity is already an urban center with many shops, restaurants, hotels and cultural venues as well as rising visitor numbers. More than 2,000 people now live in HafenCity as a whole; there are more than 5,000 students at the various academic institutions; upwards of 10,000 employees work in more than 500 businesses. Today HafenCity already ranks internationally as a model of urbane, sustainable and innovative major urban development that takes account of local needs and global demands alike. Yet it has a good way to go before its projected completion 2025–2030, so in the coming years the face of this new city district will be characterized by the laying of many foundation stones, plenty of cranes and lots of topping out ceremonies. Construction of approx. 156,000 m² GFA (not including southern Überseequartier) will begin 2016 alone; that corresponds to the built volume of a whole neighborhood (cf. HafenCity’s Sandtorpark/Grasbrook neighborhood, for example, with a total 119,000 m² GFA).

The time will have arrived November 2016 when visitors will be able to enjoy the panorama of the Elbe, the Speicherstadt, HafenCity and Hamburg’s city center from the newly opened 37-meter-high plaza of the Elbphilharmonie, towering like an icon above HafenCity. In immediate view is the still empty neighboring spit, prominent Strandkaispitze (plots 55, 56, 57 a and b), where at least the preparatory work for 64,000 m² GFA is scheduled for 2016. About 500 apartments for rent and sale will be built on the three plots, including superior but affordable housing cooperative homes. The Strandkai ensemble comprises two elegant 55-meter residential towers, including exciting cultural and leisure uses at street level, for instance the children’s arts center (Kinderkulturhaus).

Construction of Southern Überseequartier (plots 34/8 through 34/14), by far the biggest and most complex private project in Hamburg, may also get under way at the end of 2016, or 2017 at the latest, with preparatory work on the excavation pit. With a total 260,000 m² GFA, including major retail facilities, catering, residential and entertainment space, the cruise terminal, plus hotel and office space, Überseequartier is set to be HafenCity’s most metropolitan neighborhood and also its busiest. The basis for building approvals will be established progressively 2016.

But it is not just major projects by international developers and famous architects that are putting their stamp on the face of HafenCity; various other mixed-use construction projects are due to start, such as the one on plot 72 between Lohsepark and HafenCity University that will offer an urban mix of a hotel, publicly subsidized student accommodation and apartments financed on the open market. A further example is the “Campus-Tower” (plot 80) at Baakenhafen, which will provide special office concepts for start-ups and entrepreneurs alongside space for academic [JD1] institutions, while subsidized rental housing and owned apartments are planned for the adjacent building; together they mark the kick-off of development in the Baakenhafen neighborhood.

The focus of housing development in the next five years will be on Baakenhafen neighborhood. Construction will begin on the center of the neighborhood, with a total 436 apartments (plots 91, 92 a/b and 93), around Lola-Rogge-Platz on the southern part of the Baakenhafen peninsula. At this early stage the shopping center for the whole neighborhood, with a supermarket, drugstore, small stores and catering, will already be under construction. There will be 1,800 to 2,000 apartments in all, presenting an opportunity for a multitude of new developers during 2016. The invitation to tender ended December 2015 for the six plots (82a/b, 83b, 86, 88a-d, 96a/b, 97). Exclusive options will be granted during 2016 for over 800 residential units and commercial areas, attractively located with a double waterfront on Baakenhafen basin and the River Elbe – including the additional plots 96a/b, 97 and 99 adjoining Elbbrücken neighborhood. Thus all of the neighborhood’s building plots bar three will have been allocated in summer 2016. In addition, tendering invitations for the remaining plots in Baakenhafen and for the first in Elbbrücken neighborhood will start 2016.

“The projects where construction starts or that enter the final planning phase in 2016 alone represent the full range of sophisticated urban development: they stretch from complex major projects by international developers to small-scale neighborhood structures with a multitude of varied developers at Baakenhafen. Together they comprise a new urban space by the Elbe that, from the Elbphilharmonie to the Elbe bridges, is almost fully composed, satisfying the highest international requirements and those of an emphatic renewal of Hamburg’s identity,” says Prof. Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg, Chief Executive of HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, assessing the current state of developments.

Enjoy HafenCity’s first large park and watch an island grow – “green HafenCity” will become visible and tangible 2016

Lohsepark, at 4.4 hectares HafenCity’s largest green space, will open July 9–10, 2016 with a big two-day public celebration. At that point the whole of the green public park, bar a few remaining areas, will be open to the people of Hamburg. The special nature of the park starts with its shape. It stretches like a long ribbon from waterside to waterside, from Brooktorhafen in the north to Baakenhafen in the south. Generous sweeps of grass, crisscrossed by a loose network of paths, and 530 trees make for green natural and relaxing surroundings. Lohsepark is not just a place for leisure, sport and movement, it is also HafenCity’s green heart and an important social meeting place for the whole neighborhood – and it is a place of remembrance. The park incorporates the Hanover Railroad Station Memorial (“denk.mal Hannoverscher Bahnhof“) commemorating the Jews, Sinti and Roma deported in the Nazi era. It will open in spring 2017.

A green space of a wholly different kind will literally take shape in Baakenhafen 2016. The floe-shaped form of the 1.6-hectare Baakenpark, an artificial promontory created by infilling Baakenhafen basin, can already be clearly made out. During 2016 Baakenpark will get its exciting topography with varying heights – the 14.8-meter high “Himmelsberg” will be built, trees planted and a generously proportioned play park on the theme of flotsam will be laid out. The footbridge, linking the promontory with the northern embankment, will also be completed 2016. Because of its long and involved construction, Baakenpark will not open until fall 2017, but then it is bound to become a sought-after landscape and one of the most popular meeting places for residents of eastern HafenCity as well as for HafenCity’s many visitors.

Urban development and innovation – HafenCity develops its long-term sustainability strategies further

HafenCity’s progress is not only discernible at the structural and physical level; the district is also an experimental ground for innovative urban development. Innovation is promoted at various different levels – both social and ecological sustainability are pursued.

There will be progress 2016 in the sustainable electromobility concept, for example, which will be put into practice for the first time in Baakenhafen neighborhood. Developers provide a below-average parking slot ratio of 0.4 per home. The building costs for a second underground parking level can be saved, reducing the cost of apartments. Developers also have to commit to equip at least 30 percent of parking slots with charging equipment for electric vehicles and to get involved in developing cross-neighborhood car-sharing systems so that all households have access to car use without owning a vehicle of their own and without car-sharing vehicles taking up all the available public parking areas. The invitation to tender for operating the car-sharing system, with a proportion of electric vehicles, will go out 2016. The intention is to launch the system 2018 at the latest. The operator will be chosen 2017 so that a concept will be in place for all 3,000 households in eastern HafenCity – something that is so far unique in its size and form anywhere in the world.

An example of innovative strategies in the field of social development is the neighborhood management specially developed for HafenCity to establish a basis for social integration and solidarity between residents, businesses and building owners. To this end, an appropriate institution (foundation or association) will be set up, to be financed through small subscriptions paid by property owners and users – in concrete terms a monthly sum of €0.07 (residential use) or €0.10 (commercial use) per m² of chargeable floor area, as laid down bindingly in property sales contracts. The income is to be used, among other things, to finance the running costs of HafenCity’s community centers, which have yet to be built, and other neighborhood functions. Prof. Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg summarizes the innovative nature of the neighborhood management as follows: “The result will be a civil society obligation on the part of private property owners and users that is exemplary in this respect, of benefit to the district and the city as a whole in terms of responsible long-term cohesion, governed by the stakeholders themselves and functioning in the long term without HafenCity Hamburg GmbH.”

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