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Facts & Figures

HafenCity Project

HafenCity development: facts and figures

HafenCity Hamburg is setting new standards – at least in Europe – in successful integrated urban development that takes local requirements and high expectations of urbanity and sustainability equally into consideration. On an area of 157 ha, a lively city is taking shape, a new downtown on the waterfront with a fine-grained blend of workplaces and residential uses, education, culture and leisure, tourism and retail facilities.

HafenCity is being developed from west to east and from north to south. In the meantime, HafenCity has become established as a popular place to live and work. (© HafenCity Hamburg GmbH)

Status: February 2019

Stages of development in HafenCity

  • 1997: Announcement of HafenCity project
  • 1999: Masterplan competition: winner KeesChristiaanse / ASTOC
  • 2000: Masterplan agreed by Senate2001: Above-ground construction begins (SAP, now KLU / MSH)
  • 2003: Completion of first building, building starts on first neighborhood (Am Sandtorkai / Dalmannkai)
  • 2005: First residents move in
  • 2009: Construction of first neighborhood completed
  • 2010: Revision of Masterplan for eastern HafenCity
  • 2012: U4 subway to HafenCity opens
  • 2014: Opening of HafenCity University (HCU) in HafenCity
  • 2017: Opening of Elbphilharmonie concert hall
  • 2017: Construction begins in southern Überseequartier
  • 2018: Elbbrücken subway station opens
  • 2019: Elbbrücken rapid transit station goes into service
  • 2021/22: Construction of Elbtower begins
  • 2022: Opening of Überseequartier and new cruise ship terminal
  • 2025–2030: Projected completion of HafenCity (apart from a few buildings)

Basic data

  • Overall area: 157 ha of former port and industrial land
  • Land area: 127 ha
  • Expansion of Hamburg City area by 40% 
  • 10.5 km dockside promenade/3.1 km Elbe embankment
  • Proportion of public open spaces and publicly accessible private open spaces: 38%
  • over 7,500 homes (approx. 1,500–2,000 subsidized) for approx. 15,000 residents
  • Building density: 3.7–6.1 floor space index (FSI)
  • Residential density: 118 / ha (land area)
  • Employee density: 354 / ha (land area)
  • 68 projects completed; 71 projects under construction or planned
  • Investment volume: private investment – around € 10 billion; public investment – € 3 billion, mostly financed from special assets fund sales of plots in HafenCity
  • General planning basis:
    – Masterplan 2000
    – Masterplan revision for eastern HafenCity 2010
  • Deals through sale of land or exclusive options have been closed on around 1.8 million m² GFA

Usage Pattern

Residential uses
(indicative data)

  • approx. 3,000 residential units completed
  • price spectrum:
    – subsidized living: € 6.50 / m² (first tier subsidy) and € 8.60 / m² (second tier)
    – housing cooperative rentals: € 9.50–14 / m²
    – controlled price housing: € 11.50-13 / m²
    – rental market: € 12–20 / m²
    – privately owned homes:
        - from approx. € 3,500-4,000 / m² (joint building ventures)
        - over € 4,000–6,000 / m² (developer-managed concepts)
        - up to € 6,000–10,000 / m² (luxury concepts); individual cases e.g. penthouses over
          € 10,000 / m²
  • Current number of residents: approx. 4,000
  • increasing higher proportion of households with children
    (HafenCity: 23.8 %; Hamburg average: 17.8%)

Office and services uses

  • more than 730 companies to date including approx. 40 larger firms
  • creation of up to 45,000 jobs (of which 35,000 office jobs)
  • current jobs: approx. 14,000

Selected cultural institutions

  • Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall (opened 2017)
  • International Maritime Museum Hamburg (private, opened 2008)
  • Prototyp automobile museum (private, opened 2008)
  • Oberhafen (creative quarter in former railroad sheds, some in use, some being modernized)
  • denk.mal Hannoverscher Bahnhof documentation center (deportation exhibition, opens 2021/21)

Education facilities

  • HCU HafenCity University (since 2014)
  • KLU Kühne Logistics University (since 2010)
  • MSH Medical School Hamburg (since 2010)
  • International School of Management (branch; since 2010)
  • Frankfurt School of Finance and Management (branch; since 2011)
  • HafenCity school campus: educational establishment with four Gymnasium secondary streams and three community school streams incl. three-court sports hall, poss. added residential (Am Lohsepark building opens 2022/23; operations begin at Baakenhafen 2021)
  • Baakenhafen learning and family center: four-stream primary and children's day-care incl. sports hall, training pool, education services (opens 2020)
  • Katharinen school (primary; since 2009)
  • six children’s day-care centers operational (of which one temporary), two more under construction or planned (total more than 1,000 spaces)

Special projects
(not including cultural projects)

  • Traditional Ship Harbor in Sandtorhafen harbor basin: 5,800 sqm floating square on pontoons (since 2008)
  • Ecumenical Forum (since 2012)
  • Elbe Arcades (since 2013)
  • denk.mal Hanover railroad station (memorial with three elements in and at Lohsepark, step-by-step completion since 2016)
  • Lohsepark (since 2016)
  • 1.6 ha Baakenpark recreational island (completion 2018)
  • Überseequartier: highly integrated mixed-use quarter (retail, residential, hotel, entertainment, offices, cruise ship terminal, gastronomy), 410,000 m2 GFA, 6,100 jobs (completion 2022)
  • Elbtower: Hamburg's tallest permanently used building (approx. 240 m, 105,000 m² GFA, offices, hotel, entertainment; construction starts 2021/22)

Press Contact

Direct press requests to HafenCity Hamburg GmbH:


Your contacts:

Susanne Bühler
Head of Communications
Phone: +49 (0)40 37 47 26 - 14

André Stark
Press Relations Marketing
Tel. (040) 37 47 26 - 21

Henrike Thomsen
Press Relations Marketing Billebogen
Tel. (0)40 37 47 26-20

Or use our contact form:


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“Elbtower” – Culmination of HafenCity and entrée to city center

Plans to build a high-rise in HafenCity next to the Elbe bridges are taking on concrete form. On March 8, the Mayor of Hamburg, Olaf Scholz, the Chief Executive of HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, Prof. Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg, and Hamburg’s Chief Planning Officer, Prof. Jörn Walter, publicly laid out the conditions for this outstanding construction project in Hamburg’s Town Hall. A high-rise that makes a strong statement is envisaged next to the Elbe bridges, forming both a powerful culmination of HafenCity’s development in the east and an entrée to Hamburg’s inner city. The project calls for special qualities: a sculptural high-rise, an unusual top to the building and sustainable construction to the highest international technical standards. It can be about 200 m high. Uses that would come into consideration include offices, hotel, exhibition and event space and possibly residential. The public amenity uses could make the building a meeting point for HafenCity, the districts of Rothenburgsort and Veddel, and the whole of Hamburg. The agenda is now being set for finding a developer and realizing the construction. Following a public curtain-raiser in Hamburg, the project will be presented to the international public for the first time at the real estate fair in Cannes next week. The private developer is due to be identified in 2018; then it will be for the Hamburg Senate and Parliament to decide. Construction could begin in 2020/2021

The idea of creating a significant entrance to Hamburg’s inner city here at the Elbe bridges, outside the sphere of influence of Hamburg’s historic skyline, goes right back to the genesis of HafenCity. It is more than 20 years since Volkwin Marg produced his “draft principles”, laying out first ideas for HafenCity as an extension of inner-city Hamburg by the River Elbe: Between the two Elbe bridges are two high-rises, an unmistakable eastern culmination to the new city district. A few years later, in 1999, the first urban-planning competition for HafenCity generated many proposals for high-rises in this location, and so a high-rise development was incorporated into the Masterplan and the urban-planning concept for HafenCity. This idea was reiterated in the plans for the Olympic Games in Hamburg and for Chicago Square.

Now, 16 years since planning and construction began, HafenCity is making great strides towards the east. Work has been under way underground since 2013 on the 1.3 km extension of the U4 subway. The new “Elbbrücken” station is due to open at the end of 2018, and from 2019 a glazed pedestrian bridge will link it to the equally new rapid transit station. At Elbbrücken, HafenCity’s easternmost neighborhood, infrastructure and real estate development is already well advanced. This poses the question of how the hitherto undefined location by the Elbe bridges could form a special and fitting culmination of HafenCity’s more than 20 years of development and become a new focal point for Hamburg.

Now, the entrée to the inner city and the upper boundary of the Elbe navigation at the Elbe bridges are both to be marked by a single distinct place. The location marks a highly signification point in Hamburg’s cityscape, recognizable over long distances. In this respect it is unparalleled in the long term and will not attract any further high-rise developments. The “Elbtower” will create a striking entrance to the city, giving the cityscape clear contours from the south, from the north – outside the sightlines to the city’s church spires – and from the east and west. This is the only point where Hamburg can really grow upwards without disturbing the historical cityscape and inner-city skyline of church spires.

This construction project is a complex and demanding task that will require a long lead time for planning, attracting suitable developers, and realization. For that reason, and given the high real estate interest in Hamburg and HafenCity, it is a well-chosen moment to tackle the project of constructing a high-rise by the Elbe bridges.

The basis of the call for tenders for the site is a sculptural high-rise with an unmistakable top to the building that particularly emphasizes the unique character of this location by the Elbe bridges while simultaneously doing justice to the historic Elbe bridging point without impinging on it. A departure from the original Masterplan and from many high-rises worldwide is that the “Elbtower” will be a mixed-use building, with offices, hotel space and possibly even apartments. The high-rise will stand on a plinth whose public amenity uses such as exhibition and cultural space, catering, event and conference areas or retailing will enable it to develop an urban, public character despite its setting between main thoroughfares.

Olaf Scholz, Mayor of Hamburg: “The ‘Elbtower’ in HafenCity offers Hamburg outstanding opportunities for urban development and the city economy. Hamburg has just celebrated the brilliant opening of the Elbphilharmonie to great international acclaim. The eye of the world is on Hamburg. Now the ‘Elbtower’ gives us the chance to anchor what the then chief planning officer, Fritz Schumacher, called the ‘Hamburg Artwork’ – the Inner Alster, the Town Hall Square and their urbanistic framework – definitively in the 21st century without relinquishing any of the quality of the past.”

Prof. Jörn Walter, Chief Planning Officer: “The Elbe bridges have always been felt to be the gateway to Hamburg, whether one approaches by train, by car or by river vessel; when you reach the Elbe bridges you’ve arrived. There is no place in the cityscape that merits being singled out and flagged up from far away more than this ‘magical’ location. And it is possible here because the skyline of the old town with its church spires is not affected. Here HafenCity, the biggest urban development project of our generation, describes a thrilling arc from the Elbphilharmonie to the Elbe bridges.”

Prof. Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg, Chief Executive of HafenCity Hamburg GmbH: “The ‘Elbtower’ is of outstanding urbanistic importance for HafenCity and for Hamburg. Its concept and construction are meant to make it an especially sustainable building, too. That is why we are in favor of the tower. For the real estate market, the ‘Elbtower’ signals new ambitions not only in terms of height, but also in terms of quality. In the decades to come, and probably for more than a century, there can be no comparable building in Hamburg.”

The next step is for HafenCity Hamburg GmbH to set the agenda for the call for tenders, for finding a suitable private developer and for the architectural draft. Following the public curtain-raiser in Hamburg, the ‘Elbtower’ project will be presented to an international public for the first time at the MIPIM real estate fair in Cannes from March 14 to 17.

The requirement is for a bidding consortium or project team equal to the special challenge of developing and realizing a high-rise with a vertically mixed structure and constructing an esthetically pleasing, sustainable building. Bidders must also be able to provide appropriate (international) project references. A tender phase of about four months will be followed by several months of negotiations with a maximum of two bidders. Given the magnitude and significance of this project, the final decision concerning the developer and the concept as well as the architect and plans will lie with the Hamburg Parliament.

Press contacts:

Jörg Schmoll, Senate Press Spokesman, Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg
Tel: +49 40 42831-2242
E-mail: joerg.schmoll@sk.hamburg.de

Susanne Bühler, Press Spokeswoman, HafenCity Hamburg GmbH,
Tel: +49 40 37 47 26 14
E-mail: buehler@Hafencity.com

Constanze von Szombathely, Press Spokeswoman, Ministry for Urban Development and Housing
Tel: +49 40 42840-2056
E-mail: constanzevon.szombathely@bsw.hamburg.de

Press photos
can be downloaded here: http://t.hh.de/8324474