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Reinventing the city on the banks of the Elbe and the Bille

In urban spatial terms and in its development on the ground, HafenCity has reached Elbbrücken. It now needs to be integrated with the areas to the north and south. Here urban formulations are possible that envisage a major entrée, a place with a high density of use and expressive urban character

Prof. Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg is speaking in front of a board which displays new opportunities for urban development in Hamburg

At the annual press conference 2018 Prof. Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg, CEO of HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, introduced journalists to the new opportunities for urban development in Hamburg (© ELBE&FLUT )

HafenCity, the maritime district in Hamburg’s center and Europe’s biggest inner-city urban development project, is on the home straight: In 2018 three hotels offering 700 beds are due to open, 800 apartments will be ready for occupation, several larger and smaller companies are set to move in and a new, green park, surrounded by water is opening ­­– all clear signs. In addition, construction starts in 2018 on upwards of 1,500 apartments. And a new era of urban development is set to begin when the new U4 subway station at Elbbrücken goes into service on December 9, 2018. This new, modern transport intersection – perhaps linked in future to a 200-meter landmark building – connects HafenCity even more closely with the whole of the city center and the neighboring areas of Rothenburgsort, Veddel and Grasbrook.

New opportunities for urban development in Hamburg are also opening up. The perspective extends beyond eastern HafenCity towards the Billebogen urban development area where a new gateway to the city and room for entrepreneurial ideas are emerging along a 700-meter axis, while on the other side of the River Elbe the planned development of the new Grasbrook neighborhood will take HafenCity’s sustainability and innovation strategies further. Together the three urban development areas represent a large zone of inner-city transformation. They are an expression of Hamburg’s intelligent strategy for growth that significantly strengthens the city’s competitiveness within Europe and creates new jobs, and residential and leisure areas for many people.

Homes for living

In 2018 around 800 apartments will be ready for occupation, including many family homes, the first student apartments and around 300 subsidized apartments. In Baakenhafen neighborhood the first residents will be moving in. Construction starts on about 1,500 apartments in 2018, including 450 at Strandkai, about 950 in Baakenhafen and about 150 at Lohsepark.

The diversity of concepts, prices and architecture is convincing many people to move to HafenCity. The district is also particularly attractive to families because of its good social infrastructure, now including five children’s daycare centers and a primary school. The second primary at Baakenhafen is due to open 2020, while the Lohsepark school campus with grammar and community schools is entering the decisive phase of the architectural competition, with opening scheduled for 2022. Secondary education will already be offered at the new primary school center at Baakenhafen from the 2020/21 school year.

When the first residents moved in at Sandtorkai in 2004, many people still saw HafenCity as not very family friendly. But in recent years the share of households with children has increased steadily. Latest statistical data from the Statistikamt Nord show that, at 22.7 percent, the figure for HafenCity is well above the Hamburg average. Today, HafenCity’s strategy of integrating daycare and schools in the neighborhood at an early stage, creating high-quality public spaces and concentrating on mixed-use concepts is paying off.

Hotels as “urban living rooms”

Another factor contributing to the liveliness of HafenCity is the increasing range of cultural and event venues and attractions for night owls. Hotels are playing an important role here. By appealing to the whole neighborhood they are becoming meeting places for people who live or work in the area or are visiting, assuming the quality of urban “living rooms”. Three hotels with 700 rooms in total will be opening in central and eastern HafenCity in 2018, all with particularly exciting concepts. 

“Hotels are not what they were”, proclaims the website of the new PIERDREI hotel in northern Überseequartier. Developed and run by Frederik and Gerrit Braun and Sebastian Drechsler of Miniatur Wunderland, Prof. Norbert Aust of Schmidts Tivoli and Kai Hollmann of Fortune Hotels, PIERDREI sees itself explicitly as a “hotel for Hamburg people”. As well as its 212 rooms, the hotel will have a small campsite on the roof, seven meters above the ground. A small stage for concerts, readings or small theatre productions will breathe extra life into the neighborhood, especially during the evening. And of course the Astor Kino Lounge, with three cinema auditoriums and run by Cinemaxx founder Hans-Joachim Flebbe, will attract night owls to HafenCity. The JUFA-Hotel, opening in May 2018 with 200 rooms at Baakenhafen, focuses particularly on families. The Austrian family hotel specialist’s first north German hotel offers everything for a holiday with children, from buggy rental to indoor and outdoor playgrounds, including an open-air Störtebeker Ship that is bound to attract local children, too. Finally, in fall 2018, the Holiday Inn Group is due to open a new hotel with 265 rooms and a conference and events center opposite HafenCity University.

Workplaces as part of the work-life balance

For HafenCity 2018 is also the year when several large new company headquarters enter use or their construction begins, while innovative start-ups will be heading here, too. In spring 2018 the new company headquarters of Engel & Völkers, with its own academy, will begin operations south of Grasbrookpark. Next door at “Strandhaus”, 94 apartments are also ready for occupation. With its landmark building, the international real estate company’s headquarters encourage staff and trainees to identify with their employer. Meanwhile the Watermark, Shipyard and Freeport building ensemble has created a special landmark at the confluence of Magdeburger Hafen, Baakenhafen and the River Elbe. As of the summer, the IT headquarters of Kühne + Nagel will be among the tenants moving in to one of the buildings. With the latest move, the logistics world leader is adding a further location to its presence in HafenCity, joining its headquarters for Germany and the Kühne-Logistics University, both based at Grosser Grasbrook. HIH Projektentwicklung will begin building a new publishing house for Gruner + Jahr at Lohsepark in fall 2018. All three examples show how sought after HafenCity and its working environment are. Its central location by the water, its high-quality architecture, its lively diversity of uses and its outstanding transport connections all contribute to its successful formula for keeping growing businesses in Hamburg.

A park as a green urban island

HafenCity residents, visitors and workers alike can look forward to the new public spaces due to be inaugurated in spring 2018. Baakenpark, a 1.6-hectare artificial peninsula in Baakenhafen basin, will open on May 5–6, 2018 with a big family weekend. The green park in the water, designed by the Berlin landscape architects Atelier Loidl, is characterized by its exciting topography of hills, lawns and play areas. Its highest point is the 14.8-meter green “Himmelsberg”, affording an expansive view across the whole of HafenCity. The favorite attraction for children is bound to be the “Treibgut” (flotsam and jetsam) playground, which they helped to design as part of a participatory process. At the same time new, attractive walking and cycling routes will be created from the U4 subway stop at HafenCity University, along the promenade and over the new footbridge to Baakenpark. New cultural venues and eateries will be moving into Oberhafen Quarter in 2018. As well as cultural and creative uses, extensive sports facilities with a soccer pitch and athletics field for school and club use will gradually be established in the neighborhood from 2018 on.

Public transit station provides new urban intersection

The new Elbbrücken U4 subway station comes into service when the timetable changes on December 9. Meanwhile the rapid transit station is under construction. This new transport intersection, connecting with new bus routes and a modal interchange that includes “Stadtrad” cycle hire and “park and ride” facilities, will be crucial in future not just for HafenCity but also for the adjacent neighborhood of Rothenburgsort to the east and the development of Grasbrook. 

 Billebogen – new entrée to the city and urban manufacturing

Billebogen gives Hamburg an additional gateway to the inner city and space for innovative entrepreneurial concepts providing about 10,000 jobs. It strengthens the city’s manufacturing and economic power as well as its waterside open-space development and urban diversity. Billebogen generates strong impulses and has great integrative potential: Located in Rothenburgsort, in Hamburg’s “Mitte” district, it will connect such diverse places as HafenCity, Billbrook, Veddel and the city center in future to form new neighborhoods. Thus Rothenburgsort, whose urban character was destroyed in World War Two and by reconstruction focusing on transport and industry, will once again become part of the inner city.

One focus of the Billebogen Entwicklungsgesellschaft & Co. KG, a subsidiary of HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, is to redefine the Elbbrücken gateway to the city. Specifically the task is to create a new, integrated entrée to Hamburg’s inner city along a 700-meter axis from Elbbrücken, via the new intermodal rail station to Billbecken harbor basin. New ideas will be developed in 2018 through an urban development process. The space adjoining the Hamburg arterial highway of Billhorner Brückenstrasse offers great potential through reclaiming traffic areas for development. An oversized freeway intersection could make way for commercial sites in a prime location, with residential uses possible in their lee.

A central opportunity for urban manufacturing comes from widening the focus on the new intermodal rail station. The formerly restricted 11-hectare site between Billhorner Brückenstrasse and Billstrasse will be opened up for diverse use and will finally be able to capitalize on its outstanding proximity to the city center and HafenCity. On the new intermodal rail station site, 2,500 to 3,000 high-quality jobs will be created in commercial buildings of a new type that promise an innovative environment, sustainably efficient spatial structures and highly visible addresses. Thus a new space for ideas will emerge between Elbbrücken and the River Bille.

 Grasbrook – rethinking urban development

The decision to locate the German Port Museum in Grasbrook gives Hamburg’s new urban development project an important early cultural boost. As well as homes, the new Grasbrook neighborhood will offer space for new offices, commercial buildings, research facilities and laboratories. Plans foresee 16,000 jobs, 3,000 homes for about 6,000 residents, plus shopping facilities, a primary school and child daycare centers. Existing buildings will also be used here. This urban development project, covering about 46 hectares and with about 880,000 sqm of gross floor area above ground, will be on a scale equivalent to a good third of HafenCity, while 4.9 km of publicly accessible waterfront will be created, combined with attractive green spaces and high-quality public urban areas. A focus on innovation is more important than speed when it comes to developing Grasbrook neighborhood. This holds true for the companies that locate here as well as for its mobility and energy concepts.

Following an exhaustive survey and agreement on strategic themes, an urban development plan will be developed on the basis of an urban planning ideas competition. This will be followed by the formal planning process (land-use plan, zoning plan).

Press kit

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