The HafenCity area from the air


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Creative and cultural quarter

Centrally located, a dynamic cultural and creative neighborhood is developing south of Oberhafen harbor, bringing fresh potential for Hamburg

The centrally located Oberhafen neighborhood is well connected to the rest of HafenCity. Later it will also encompass the Central Wholesale Market site to the east and its creative influence will spill over into the central neighborhoods of HafenCity, Rotenburgsort, City Süd and the "museum mile" (© ELBE&FLUT) Start slideshow

Oberhafen nucleus: For a long time this neighborhood mostly consisted of large railroad storage sheds, but, for at least ten years, a variety of creative uses have also been around. From the short-film festival to dance performances, creative co-working spaces to places like Halle 424, part of an old warehouse at the end of Stockmeyerstrasse which unites under one roof scenery and set production, a photographic studio and relaxed location for jazz and classical music: the rather special local conditions are there for a lively art and cultural scene to grow, closely linked to the rest of HafenCity, Rothenburgsort and City Süd, where new cultural activities are developing, and just a stone’s throw from Hamburg’s “museum mile”. To do this, however, HafenCity’s “normal” development process was turned upside down. Instead of a new urban concept, the approach to development here is to find fresh and intensified uses for existing buildings; a step by step transformation process in cooperation with tenants. And the premises, which contain mainly one-story goods sheds, are not sold, but remain the property of the city's special fund for city and port (administered by HafenCity Hamburg GmbH), not least to retain the possibility of shaping development in Hamburg’s interests and securing a sound economic basis. 

Dialog-oriented development

The various development concepts for the neighborhood are being worked out during the course of an intensive dialog process, based on a longer development timeframe of up to ten years. Throughout the development phase, HafenCity Hamburg GmbH will be working closely with Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft GmbH. At the same time, there is an energetic exchange of ideas with creative enterprises and people involved in the arts and a variety of other interested parties. A kick-off international symposium in spring 2011 started the ball rolling, still today resulting in numerous other events and discussions, as well as steps in development. In the same framework, Oberhafen e.V. and other organizations are promoting the careful, sustainable development of the neighborhood into a lively location for art, culture and creative activities. 

Opportunities for the cultural and creative economy

The appearance of the Oberhafen neighborhood is characterized by long warehouse buildings, once mainly used by logistics businesses, fronted by multi-story buildings. Since the premises’ official use as a railroad station only ceased in 2015, the area’s transformation into a creative quarter can now begin, although the buildings will retain a strongly public character. At the same time, the creative economy’s new production locations will require new usage permits, considerable modernization, as well as flood-protection of the buildings.

Long term Oberhafenquartier should create up to 500 jobs in a variety of cultural/creative activities, that could in future spill over into the Central Wholesale Market site to the east via a new bridge. Small-scale gastronomy and exhibition and presentation spaces will also reinforce the public function of the quarter and encourage its integration into the rest of HafenCity.

Because of the complexity of local conditions, expressions of interest were invited for the first time in early 2012 to find a use concept for a vacant site. From the 15 proposed concepts submitted, an interdisciplinary jury selected Hanseatic Materialverwaltung. This successful concept sets out to supply equipment and scenery for social, ecological or creative projects to Hamburg cultural institutions, state schools, universities, involved citizens and societies. 

In September 2013, Hamburg Kreativ Gesellschaft and HafenCity Hamburg GmbH launched another invitation for tenders. This time new creative users were selected for a range of individual spaces of different sizes totaling 6,000 sqm in Shed 4; they will move in by summer 2017. In the meantime, the premises are being broken down into individual rental units and renovated. The original search for an operator for catering and exhibition spaces continues separately. A decision on whether to roof over a railroad platform between two old storage sheds depends on the outcome of a detailed survey and planning, which is under way, as well as an accurate estimate of the cost. A public workshop event will sound out possible concepts for uses for the space beneath.

Playing fields on the waterfront

In addition to creative and cultural uses in Oberhafen, the unbuilt areas in the neighborhood also offer opportunities for sport and leisure activities away from dense residential areas. By 2018/19, on the embankment of Oberhafen harbor, a competition-level nine-a-side soccer field for children and youngsters from the inner city and HafenCity will be laid out that can also be used by sports clubs. HafenCity’s gymnasium, secondary and two primary schools will also be able to use the fields for light athletics. To provide a direct connection with Am Lohsepark neighborhood and the subway station there, a rail underpass for pedestrians and cyclists is planned, although various complex tasks need to be solved initially. 

Oberhafen power plant

The neighborhood is also playing an important role in energy supply for eastern Hafen-City. Thermal energy for eastern HafenCity is being generated temporarily in part of Goods Shed 4, only recognizable from outside because of its chimney, by the enterprise enercity. Heat output from the cogeneration plant concealed behind the brick façade totals 10 MW. Leading edge technology crammed into the tiny space includes a combined heat and power unit, two natural gas-powered boilers (offset biomethane gas), a heat accumulation plant, and a substation feeding energy into the local power grid – nearly 92 percent of the power produced here is from renewables. Conventional power only kicks in to cope with peak loads. The plant is to be replaced in coming years by heating generated from process waste heat from the Aurutill plant – guaranteeing an even more sustainable supply.

Neighborhood profile

  • Area
    8.9 hectares
    Total GFA: 25,000 sqm (existing)
  • Jobs
    c. 500
  • Commercial uses
    Creative and culture knowledge, catering
  • Special institutions
    Cultural and creative quarter, sports facilities in the east, temporary energy center
  • Development timeframe
    Development centering on existing buildings and perhaps additional newbuilds, detailed concept through intensive dialog
  • Completion
    Step-by-step implementation, first phase complete 2030