A mixed response to Hamburg’s HafenCity

HafenCity has been one of the most significant urban redevelopments in Europe in recent decades. Giacomo Guzzon gives his personal response.

Located on the Elbe River in Hamburg, Germany, the HafenCity is a part of the district called Hamburg-Mitte. It is an urban development project that aims to transforms the old warehouses of Hamburg into shops, offices and residential areas. Among the new buildings for the city, the new HafenCity University and a concert hall will be located there. The project is the largest urban project in Europe in terms of land extension (2,2 km²).

I  August I visited Hamburg and I was surprised by the unique atmosphere of the site. I was struck by the contrasting old red brick warehouses against the new buildings. However, the development also appeared sterile, due to the large amount of new contemporary buildings. If I had to choose a colour to characterize the HafenCity I would choose anthracite grey because it is present in the pavements, buildings, windows, water and even in the sky of this northern German city. I preferred the area of the Marco Polo Terrassen which has been planted with redwood trees. Here there are stone steps with benches and trees planted at different levels. The HafenCity is served with two stations on the newly constructed underground line, U4. Next to the underground station Überseequartier a playground has been created by the Barcelona based design studio EMBT. Most interesting is the playground that was conceived after a survey at the local elementary school. It was built in response to the requests made by the kids. The HafenCity is expected to be completed between 2020 and 2030, and when it is complete it will be home to about 12,000 people and a workplace for 40,000.

This review has been edited from the original.

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