HafenCity celebrating 15th anniversary with impressive balance sheet

3 April 2023
Evolving suburb planning plenty for next 15 years

Henning Voscherau, former Mayor of Hamburg, first came up with his grand plans for HafenCity in 1991, inspired by the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain. However, the notion of transforming a mainly fallow part of the port into a new suburb was shrouded in secrecy initially. The grand plans involved nothing less than turning the Hanseatic city into an interface with central Europe and to seize great business opportunities in the process. Only a privileged few were initially privy to the plans to avoid resistance from the port industry or problems acquiring properties and companies. During a speech to the Überseeclub in 1997, Voscherau unveiled his "Vision of HafenCity" as the “return of the inner city to the waterfront”. Some 157 hectares were to take on a new life as a cutting-edge urban space along the Elbe River. A master plan, adopted by the senate in 2000, outlined the concept of HafenCity as a catalyst for an economic, social, cultural and urban revival. HafenCity was to become a model European city centre. These efforts yielded results when some of the first buildings, erected in the new suburb, won the “Hamburg Architecture Prize” or “Building of the Year” award. In 2008, HafenCity and Speicherstadt finally became an official suburb of Hamburg.

Mixed-use conglomerate and digtal art museum

Today's HafenCity consists of ten, mixed-use quarters for residential, work, cultural and leisure purposes. A milestone is likely a new, innovative ensemble of buildings in the Elbbrücken Quarter in the east. Around 600 rental and owner-occupied apartments and an international, subsidised student hostel with around 260 apartments will go hand in hand with a nursery school and space for commercial and catering businesses. The various construction phases are due for completion between the end of 2024 and early 2026. Upcoming highlights include Europe's largest "Digital Art Museum" to be built on a 7,000 square metre site. Art lovers will then be able to admire the works of the artists in the Team Labs collective.



Immersive art by Team Lab collective

Spacious Elbtower and work of light art 

Germany's third tallest skyscraper, after the Commerzbank Tower and the Messeturm in Frankfurt am Main, is being built on a triangular plot of land near the Elbe River. Designed by the world-famous British architect, Sir David Chipperfield, the 245-metre Elbtower will provide space for offices, hotels, leisure facilities, and art galleries on 65 floors on completion in 2025/26. The façade, designed by Studio Other Spaces, will become a work of light art. Sensors will gauge weather conditions and reflect them visually turning the edifice into a vibrant sculpture and especially at nighttime. The sustainably-designed skyscraper is being with less CO2 and reusable building materials.

Visualisierung des Elbtowers

Elbphilharmonie and "Miniatur Wunderland"

Opened in 2017,  the Elphilharmonie has long since become a radiant attraction in HafenCity. Around 3.3 million concert lovers have attended more than 2,900 concerts in the landmark concert hall so far. The most frequently performed composers were Ludwig van Beethoven (486 times), Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart (390 times) and Johann Sebastian Bach (350 times). In addition, around 14.5 million Plaza visitors have already enjoyed the 360° panoramic view over Hamburg. Another popular tourist attraction, Miniatur Wunderland Hamburg, is within walking distance and has already topped the German National Tourist Board's ranking of the 100 most popular sights in Germany five times and counting. This magnificient miniature railwayscape features well over 1,000 model railways running on a good 1,500 square metres with 289,000 little figures. The world's largest model railway took over 1 million hours to build at a cost of EUR 37 million so far.

A bus stop near Speicherstadt as depicted in Miniatur Wunderland

Living, working and studying in HafenCity

HafenCity remains Europe's largest construction site as only half of the planned buildings have been completed. Yet, its impressive, 15th anniversary balance sheet has plenty to show. Around 4,000 residential units have been completed and some 8,000 people including an above-average number of families now call HafenCity home. Some 930 companies have created 15,000 of 45,000 jobs envisaged there. KLU Kühne Logistics University opened its doors in 2010 followed the MSH Medical School Hamburg in the same year and HCU HafenCity University in 2014 to bolster Hamburg as a centre of science. 


Sources and further information

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