Master Plan

Revision of the Masterplan: Taking the HafenCity Concept Further

Over a period of ten years, the Masterplan with its concept for horizontal and vertical mixes of uses and flexible framework of disparate urban neighborhoods proved to be a good point of departure for redevelopment of former port areas south of the inner city. However, the document failed to offer an adequate planning basis for the three eastern quarters, Oberhafen, Baakenhafen and Elbbrücken

The illustration shows the east of the HafenCity after revision of the Masterplan

The illustration shows the east of the HafenCity after revision of the Masterplan (© HafenCity Hamburg GmbH)

In addition, the underlying conditions there had altered considerably: whereas eastern HafenCity had been regarded initially as a suburban city area, it had evolved in the meantime into part of the new core inner city, partly due to new subway connections that had previously not been foreseen. For this reason the Masterplan was completely reworked between 2008 and 2010, then approved by the Senate as the Revised Masterplan in 2010.

Redefinition of the Masterplan was led by HafenCity Hamburg GmbH in conjunction with the then Hamburg Urban Development and Environment Ministry as well as the principal authors of the original Masterplan, Kees Christiaanse, with ASTOC. At the same time there was intensive public discussion, with a program of more than 40 events. Since then the reworked draft has been honed increasingly in further phases (urban design competitions, open space competitions, zoning plans and architectural competitions by private building companies). 

Eastern districts with distinct identities

Compared with western and central HafenCity, the three eastern neighborhoods (Oberhafen, Baakenhafen and Elbbrücken) are spatially more isolated and less integrated into the existing city. Their proximity to transport routes also calls for special noise protection planning. But this also creates opportunities to give the eastern neighborhoods individuality: Am Baakenhafen will become an intermixed “city for everyone”, a residential and leisure neighborhood, offering several thousand job opportunities; Oberhafen will become the creative and cultural quarter, and Elbbrücken an urban residential but primarily business locality, home to new highly innovative worlds of work. 

Thanks to the revision of the Masterplan, it is possible to realize much more useable space throughout HafenCity: due to the intense building density and the relocation of large port businesses, the total gross floor area (GFA) realizable increased from 1.5 million to 2.4 million sqm. Land reclamation at the eastern end of Baakenhafen harbor basin and for its green peninsula also boost overall land area from 123 to 127 ha. 

Many more homes to be built

Reworking of the Masterplan also means that a much higher number of homes can be built. Since more than 3,000 housing units will be built in Baakenhafen and Elbbrücken alone, the total number of homes in HafenCity increases from 5,500 to over 7,000. As a result, possibilities for increasing the social mix have been strengthened and joint building ventures now receive more consideration in site tenders and, since 2011, one third of residential space developed is publicly subsidized. An additional primary school, two secondary schools, as well as several more kindergartens will also enhance HafenCity’s attractions as a place for families to live. The number of potential jobs also rises markedly, with the increase from 40,000 to 45,000 primarily generated in leisure, retail, catering and hotels. 

The leafy character of HafenCity has also been intensified. Squares, small and large, linked together underline urban spatial integration. Lohsepark, HafenCity’s central public park, extends down through Baakenhöft park to the River Elbe. In the south, an Elbe promenade encourages people to stroll on to Entenwerder island, and Baakenpark, an artificial green play and leisure peninsula, will enhance Baakenhafen neighborhood. Public open spaces throughout HafenCity now cover an area of more than 28 ha, compared with the initially planned 24 ha (not counting publicly accessible private areas), while the total length of shoreline extends from almost 10 to 10.5 km.

The fact that eastern HafenCity is shaped by major transport routes does lead to high noise exposure in the north and east, however. Thus intelligent urban planning and technical concepts are needed to enhance these locations: the main eastern traffic artery Versmannstrasse will be lined primarily with office buildings turning their broad backs toward the road to provide noise-protected areas to the southern side. The semi-enclosed residential ensembles will also form inner courtyards, providing shelter for neighborly coexistence.

The high ecological standards of the western and central neighborhoods will also actually be bettered in the east. As well as establishing an innovative heating energy concept, nearly all buildings will meet the demanding criteria for the gold HafenCity Ecolabel. At the same time, car pool systems overlapping neighborhood boundaries and located in underground garages will feature a growing proportion of electric vehicles. Combined with electric and normal bicycle use, this will result in a big reduction in spending on individual mobility – already at a very low level thanks to the fine-grained mix of uses and subway connections. The public sphere will also benefit from the many car-parking spaces no longer provided.

Reinvention of the city

The reworking of the Masterplan has further expanded and reinforced HafenCity’s function as a city. At the same time, the urban development area has been thought through to its easternmost point, with its new opportunities. It is clear therefore that the Masterplan is not a blueprint or a plan to be strictly adhered to or realized. Instead it provides the point of departure for a complex strategy which will continually create new opportunities. After all, urban development is a process that leads inevitably to a reinvention of the city – which is redefined not only by its changing use.