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Taking Flight

The proposed design by Code Unique dovetails open space with academic requirements (© Code Unique Architekten)

HafenCity University’s main building will be shaped like two wings, as designed by winning architects Code Unique. Both parts of the structure will be located on a waterfront square. The entry stood out because it “offered the juxtaposition of openness and transparency with a curiosity for what lies inside, skilfully linking the public space with the needs of a modern university,” according to Senator for Science and Research and jury member Jörg Dräger.

Lying between the two wings will be a light-drenched foyer. The design includes provision for a café and restaurant, both facing onto the water. Openness was the key to the design: HafenCity University should be a centre for communications, a cultural forum and a catalyst for creative thinking. The concept of adjustable room sizes was particularly striking, “giving the feeling that building and students alike are ‘under construction’,” said Jörg Dräger. Students can already look forward to the fact that their lecture and seminar rooms will offer open views across the water.
Code Unique’s winning design was one of 83 submissions. The remit for the first level of competition was to create the overall planning concept. Two other construction projects are envisaged on the same site as the main university buildings. A slender tower will link in closely with the Science Center at Überseequartier. The plans will also provide cohesion between the green areas at Lohsepark and the waterfront square on the banks of the River Elbe.

Alongside the work of the Dresden architectural firm, two other submissions were commended by the jury: the joint proposal from Trojan + Trojan (Darmstadt) and Dietz-Joppien (Frankfurt) and that of the Hamburg company Jan Störmer Partner. But the selection of the winner, Code Unique, was unanimous. As not all of the criteria initially specified could be fulfilled to the letter due to their complexity, the design is now undergoing further development. Throughout the selection process of workshops and conversations, the architects were joined by several working partners: the Ministry of Science and Research, HafenCity University, the Ministry of Urban Development and Environment, and HafenCity Hamburg GmbH.

HCU will help mould HafenCity: 27,000 sq. m of gross floor space (GFS) will house the 1,500 students and 180 staff. The two other construction projects would supplement the local area by a further 33,000 sq. m of GFS. HafenCity University is an innovative and successful link in the chain of magnificent buildings on the southern side of HafenCity.