Owner: Sondervermögen Stadt und Hafen (Special Asset “City and Port”/”City and Port” Urban Development Funds).
Master plan: Kees Christaanse, Rotterdam/Zürich; ASTOC, Cologne, and hamburgplan, Hamburg.
Open space planning: EMBT, Barcelona; Beth Gali, Barcelona; Günther Vogt, Zürich; and Atelier Loidl, Berlin.
The inner city of Hamburg is expanding toward the Elbe River by redeveloping the adjacent former port area into a new, 388- acre (157 ha) downtown area. A lively urban space is taking shape, bringing together workplaces; 6,000 residential spaces; and facilities supporting culture, leisure, tourism, retail, and public and private higher education. HafenCity is expected to accommodate more than 100,000 visitors per day and generate 45,000 jobs. The total investment amounts to €10.5 billion (US$14.02 billion) at current prices.
HafenCity is taking shape on a brownfield. The port has left an imprint on the district’s structure, as the old harbor basins are a notable feature of the development. Quay walls are being restored, and the broad tracts of water contribute to the attractiveness of HafenCity. Some historic buildings have been retained, including the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall. The International Maritime Museum has moved into Kaispeicher B; and the old Port Authority building will offer market and prime lodging space. Located directly north of HafenCity, the Speicherstadt, Hamburg’s famous warehouse district—which is on a tentative list for UNESCO World Heritage status—will be preserved.
The project, which is 22 percent complete, comprises a fine-grained mix of innercity uses; high standards of architectural and urban design; and a strong ecological sustainability strategy based on brownfield regeneration, high levels of walkability, prime public transport facilities, and attention to carbon dioxide benchmarks. The project also displays innovative climate-adjusted flood protection measures that incorporate a new urban topography with low-lying public promenades preserving the old harbor structure and provision of secure spaces for commercial and residential uses.
In January 2012, HafenCity was called “an urban construction project of dazzling heft and quality” in the New York Times. “A little more than a decade ago, Hamburg decided to repurpose nearly 400 acres [162 ha] of docklands on the Elbe as a commercial, residential, and recreational district that would increase the city center’s size by 40 percent and showcase mesmerizing glass towers,” Times travel writer Frank Bruni wrote. “In a watery area of about 15 square blocks are stunning examples of contemporary architecture, including apartment buildings with jagged, terraced exteriors; the shiplike Unilever building (Strandkai 1); and the Elbphilharmonie, or philharmonic, at the western point of Am Kaiserkai, a deliberately lopsided, wavy, spectacular monument of what looks like frosted glass.”