The city that every European urban planner nowadays looks at with admiration, you ask? Hamburg! Its HafenCity is the largest urban development on our continent. When this new district is ready, Hamburg will be no less than forty percent larger. HafenCity offers an interesting mix of culture, architecture, working and living. An example for every city in the 21st century.
How do you implement a project of this magnitude? The success of HafenCity is partly linked to the history of the city. Hamburg's role in Europe changed drastically with the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. It was no longer the most easterly city in the western world, but a metropolis in the middle of a continent that had merged once again. Hamburg thus became a crucial port city in Central Europe. There was enormous potential to further develop the city, but the administration had to take swift action.
The master plan for the development of HafenCity is based on the principle of a 'fine-grained' mix, among other things. This means that different urban functions are not separated from each other, but mixed as much as possible. Furthermore, there had to be sufficient interaction with the old city, a number of new landmarks were to be built and the district was to be subdivided into ten distinctive neighbourhoods. The aim was for HafenCity to create an economic, social and economic district. This master plan was approved in 2002 and has guided the project to this day.
HafenCity lies on the banks of the Elbe, so water is omnipresent in the development of this district. It is designed in such a way that it feels like a city centre, while retaining the typical characteristics of the port. Many buildings double as flood protection and green public spaces have been created everywhere along the water. An example is the River Promenade by the renowned architectural firm Zaha Hadid, which acts both as a meeting place and a flood dike.
The work of Zaha Hadid is certainly not the only architectural eye-catcher at HafenCity. The most famous is undoubtedly the Elbphilharmonie by Herzog & de Meuron. The project went ten times over budget and the construction took seven years longer than expected, but now that it is finished, you won't hear a single Hamburger complain anymore. The glass construction on top of an old warehouse is home to two concert halls, a hotel and apartments. It put Hamburg back on the map as a creative hotspot. The next highlight should be ready by 2025: the 230-metre Elbtower by British architect David Chipperfield. The skyscraper will house offices, a hotel with a restaurant, shops and exhibition spaces.
To date, 77 projects have been completed at HafenCity and 63 are still under construction. Meanwhile, the district is flourishing. More than 3,000 houses are already in use and 14,000 people come to work at 730 companies every day. But how do developers find investors for all these new projects? The solution lies in the size of the units. Each development is divided into small parts and sold to as many different owners as possible. The master plan labels this system the 'diversification of ownership'. The division of large projects into smaller parts allows SMEs, small contractors, developers and individuals to invest in their piece of HafenCity.
Many buildings double as flood protection.
In HafenCity, one architectural eye-catcher after another is being built.
Ambitious facts & figures
HafenCity is an ambitious project. Very ambitious. These figures make that clear at a glance.
155: hectares to be developed, 55 ha of which are water
5,500: apartments for 10,000 to 12,000 inhabitants
20,000: jobs created
10.5: kilometres of footpaths along the water
10: billion euros of private funding
3: trillion euros of public investment