Living and working between double waterfronts 

By HafenCity’s largest harbor basin, an impressive mix is emerging for a broad stratum of society 

On both sides of HafenCity’s longest harbor basin, the contours of a sustainable “urban village” are increasingly becoming visible in the midst of this major city will grow up around Baakenhafen. A green, socially mixed neighborhood for living and leisure will develop, with a diverse range of generously subsidized housing, totaling about 2,400 apartments. The various concepts span a very broad range of forms of living and are aimed, for example at students, retirees and people in need of care, since different social management organizations are involved in developing the housing concepts. There will also be about 2,200 workplaces in a special setting.

The urban planning competition for the neighborhood was won by APB Architekten (Hamburg). The moderate staggering in the heights of the buildings is a particularly convincing feature of the design. All will be of seven stories, some on the southern side featuring semi-open blocks, with a few smaller, open variations. The buildings’ spacious inner courtyards will open out toward the Elbe, with smaller longitudinal blocks forming an incisive perimeter to the city. The rhythmic perimeter block arrangement of the plots to the north between the port and Versmannstrasse guarantees real protection against noise from the street and the railroad line. The buildings open out in U-shape form toward Baakenhafen harbor basin, forming a block on the street side. The courtyards and residences on the water side are thus effectively shielded from noise, while all the future occupants will benefit from the water aspect.

Central park in harbor basin

When on a fine day in early summer 2018 almost 25,000 visitors joined the Mayor of Hamburg to celebrate the opening of Baakenpark the last piece in a process that began over six years earlier fell into place. Seven years previously Atelier Loidl (Berlin) was the clear winner with its impressive design for the international open space competition for the neighborhood. The landscape architects set a new 1,6 ha peninsula in the middle of the harbor basin whose interlocking, multi-level form offers sufficient space for a special playground, soccer fields, trees and grassland as well as the imposing “Himmelsberg” mount. It laid the planning foundations for a green place of encounter that also provides entertainment and recreation.

Baakenpark sits harmoniously between the two promontories whose promenades facing the Elbe and Baakenhafen basin increasingly offer a high degree of quality for encounter and activity. Since fall 2017 it has been possible to stroll directly from Baakenpaark via a pedestrian bridge to the Versmannkai promenade on Baakenhafen’s north bank, on to Am Lohsepark quarter, to Elbtorquartier and even all the way to Ericusspitze without crossing a single street. A further important axis in the neighborhood is Baakenhafenbrücke. The bridge provides for traffic access to eastern HafenCity.

Futuristic mobility

In Baakenhafen quarter, a station-based cross-district car sharing system in the underground parking garages is being created for all residents and employees that takes up 30 percent of the parking slots. When it goes into service, at least 40 percent of the car sharing fleet will consist of e-vehicles, increasing further in the years to come. Combined with e-bikes and conventional cycle use, this will not only greatly reduce the costs of households’ individual vehicle-based mobility but also considerably upgrade the quality of the public areas by shifting all of the necessary parking provision into the underground garages and significantly reduce CO2 emissions.

Additionally, as only 40 parking spaces will be built per 100 residential units, thus saving a whole underground parking level, building costs will be significantly reduces. The power needed for the e-vehicles will be covered from renewable energy generated centrally (in the buildings) and decentrally (by utility companies).

Family-friendly living

In 2018 the first residents also moved in on the northern side of the harbor basin. Justus Grosse Projektentwicklung GmbH built around 150 publicly subsidized and privately financed homes at the entrance to the neighborhood together with DS-Bauconcept. Also newly opened, a kiosk on the ground floor has since serving coffee and ice cream to residents and visitors to Baakenpark. Shortly afterwards, a family hotel with 220 rooms was built right next door by DS-Bauconcept and the Jufa group. It is the first north German hotel for the Austrian family hotel specialist and offers everything necessary for a holiday with children – from stroller rental to indoor and outdoor play facilities, including an outdoor Störtebeker pirate ship that also attracts neighborhood children.

The neighboring Campustower building offers innovative, flexible office concepts, some with controlled rents for start-ups and founders, as well as premises for HCU opposite, and for the head office of Garbe Group, the company responsible for the whole project. It will also include rental and privately owned apartments in a building quietly located by the water with views over Baakenhafen. Construction is also under way on the site forming part of the sports dome plot and belonging to the Frank Group and Ankerplatz joint building venture. In addition to living accommodation for joint venture stakeholders, it will contain privately financed apartments to buy and for rental, as well as subsidized living space. A particular feature is the cooperation with the social management organization Alsterdorf Assistenz, through which a total of 17 apartments will be rented to people with a disability. The PB Sports-Dome Management GmbH project itself will be a diverse and at the same time energy-efficient indoor leisure center for more than 25 trending sports.

Complete infrastructure: market, daycare, primary

Around Lola Rogge square in the southern part of the neighborhood is an “urban village center” which will provide residents with an attractive market place, as well as recreational, sport and cultural facilities. Ground floors will accommodate a supermarket, bars and restaurants. A public underground parking garage under Lola Rogge square will benefit the convenience shopping area and picking up and collection around the neighboring education complex offering a four-stream primary school and kindergarten. An adjacent multi-function and sport area links the complex direct with Baakenpark. The ground floor will house a canteen, music rooms, assembly hall and library. The school yard will be on the roof and there will be a sport hall in the basement. The new kindergarten will also have extensive zones for movement, a playground on a large roof terrace and, in the plinth, a teaching pool. On the directly adjacent plots, GWG AG (Stuttgart) and Richard Ditting GmbH & Co. KG built a total of 373 rented apartments with views of the Elbe and Baakenhafen basin. The projects include multi-generational housing for families, students, retirees and people with disabilities.

There will be an exciting mixture of a total of 180 publicly subsidized and privately financed owner-occupied apartments as well as modern artisan manufacturing in the Creative Blocks built by Garbe and the Halbinsulaner joint building venture. The “Manufakturwerk” on the east side of the site will house numerous small companies. They will not only be able to manufacture their artisanal products largely individually in the two-story building, but also sell them or exhibit them during events or in special exhibitions. The plan is for visitors to be able to experience traditional craftsmanship in connection with attractive catering. On the western part of the plot there will be a “co-living concept”, an unusual housing concept for people who appreciate the privacy of an apartment of their own but also want to experience a diverse neighborly community. There will be special provision for communal living in the residential stories and on the ground floor, such as a large kitchen for shared meals, a music room and a library. Between the two, the Halbinsulaner joint building venture will be developing a residential project for freelancers (mostly from the creative industries, architecture, housing and the media). The highlight will be the “KreaTiefgeschoss”, a three-story communal area flanking the promenade.

Exciting project diversity

Next door, four building cooperatives (Allgemeine Deutsche Schiffszimmerer-Genossenschaft, Hamburger Wohnen, Bauverein der Elbgemeinden, and HANSA Baugenossenschaft), various social welfare agencies, as well as four joint building ventures are building a very diversified and socially mixed, subsidized range of homes. These include the family joint building venture Tor zur Welt, a residential building constructed mainly of wood; the Arche Nora building joint venture, appealing to women of different generations; the tenants’ building joint venture Gemeinsam älter werden, and Kammerkombinat, a joint building venture made up of people active in arts and culture. Homes suitable for families and older people are thus also integrated into the designs, as are social and therapy projects. Additional cooperative rental apartments are to be built on the adjacent plot by two other cooperatives, Altonaer Spar- und Bauverein eG and Fluwog Nordmark; just over half will be publicly subsidized.

Here, too, the three building joint ventures Gleisoase, Am Leuchtturm and Einklang have kicked off, while the neighboring plot is being jointly developed by Antaris Projektentwicklung GmbH with Böag Beteiligungs-Aktiengesellschaft and the HeimatMole joint building venture. The site will offer a mix of around 150 joint building venture residences, privately owned apartments and subsidized and affordable housing units. An SOS-Kinderdorf e.V. assisted living group is also moving in. Meanwhile, on the future Gretchen Wohlwill square, the interface between Baakenhafen and Elbbrücken neighborhoods, the SAGA group is building 181 fully publicly subsidized homes. The apartments, ranging in sizes, offer expansive views with loggias facing the Elbe or the shared inner courtyard.

Distinctive joint building ventures

Speaking of joint building ventures, they are putting their own very special stamp on eastern HafenCity with their ideas – the “Sportlerhaus”, for example. The ground floor of the new building, with its affordable privately owned apartments, there is to be a community room that will serve as a sport and meeting place for the families from the joint building venture, but also as a clubhouse for the already established SV Baakenhafen. The club will address its sport program to all the residents of the neighborhood. This building venture is also committed to energy-efficient and sustainable construction and is building a KfW Efficiency House 40. A photovoltaic system on the roof supplies sustainable power, including for the communally used cargo e-bikes. The joint building venture even comes in below the already ambitious parking space ratio of 0.4 specified in the mobility concept for eastern HafenCity.

Or take Archy Nova Projektentwicklung GmbH: in partnership with DeepGreen Development it is creating an innovative and multi-generational housing model on seven stories. Timber construction is primarily used here. The resource-saving facets have already been worked out in detail at the architectural design stage and include minimizing the gray energy used as well as a comprehensive material flow concept for water and biomass. The façade has carbonized timber cladding, a photovoltaic system and extensive greenery. This means that a veritable future laboratory for sustainable building has now been created in eastern HafenCity. The many projects in the Baakenhafen quarter forcefully convey an impressive range of concepts for ecological, communal and healthy living and working in the city. Their diversity helps new experience to be accumulated and new standards to be developed that do not yet exist as an urban concept.

On-site HafenCity


Ten sometimes very differing quarters make up HafenCity; each has its own individual profile - and brings new qualities to Hamburg’s city center.

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