Design: 2015
Status: Honorable mention in the invited urban design competition
to plan the Elbbrücken-Quartier at the east entrance of the Hafencity in Hamburg.
Location: Mittelpunkt Quarter Elbbrücken, Hamburg, Germany



Design: 2015
Status: Honorable mention in the invited urban design competition
to plan the Elbbrücken-Quartier at the east entrance of the Hafencity in Hamburg.
Location: Mittelpunkt Quarter Elbbrücken, Hamburg, Germany
Aerial visualisation of Hafencity.

Identity and characteristic buildings
Hamburg has a very strong urban identity, consisting of the port, waterways and a dense urban structure of relatively low buildings. Within this structure, church spires and new landmarks create a distinctive skyline.

This basic understanding forms the basis for our proposed development of Hafencity towards the east. We seek to continue the urban fabric, and to harmonize the new development with the existing urban grid and local building traditions. Within a relatively homogeneous block structure, there are individual buildings and public spaces which provide a distinctive identity. Characteristic buildings serve to highlight points of reference and to define the center of gravity within the new district of Elbbrücken.

Photo of model. Topview

Structure and direction
The planning area has a distinct east-west orientation, defined by the edge oft he Elbe, the Versmannstraße and the inner harbor basin Baakenhafen. The connection between the U-bahn/S-bahn stations and the western part of Hafencity becomes the general direction of movement for the future residents, employees and visitors of the district.

Elbbrücken is the eastern gateway to Hafencity. It is important that the area forms its own identity with a clearly defined spatial and structural center, and internal logic. Our proposal aims to break down this dominant direction with a north-south running axis. This diagonal will ensure good accessibility within the district and emphasize the prioritization of pedestrians. In addition, it seeks to create a unique identity of a green district through its park-like, soft value programs.

The Baakenhafen is a central attraction within the district, not only by supplying a marine flair but also as an important visual axis of Zweibrückenstraße for Amerigo Vespucci square. The water way should not act as a barrier, and so the proposed bridge across the Baakenhafen ensures contact between the north and the south side for pedestrians and cyclists.


Public space
To sustain vibrant life and attractiveness in a high-density urban area, it is important that public spaces are more than unprogrammed plots and access roads for emergency vehciles. Public space should have a unique identity and an inviting nature through a combination of quality, program and understanding of local climate.

-The green zone along the Elbe riverbanks is wide enough to accommodate both the fast moving – cyclists, skaters and runners – in combination with those who wish to enjoy the unique view and landscape.

-The promenade at Baakenhafen offers a classic harbor front, invitingyou to a contemplative stroll, while commercial programs like cafes, restaurants and galleries make for a cosmopolitan experience like that of Sandtorkai.

-The diagonal axis from the Elbe to Baakenhafen will have a park-like character, and connect all major residential developments though a green exterior space for soft mobility.

-The Amerigo Vespucci square marks the transition between the promenade and the green diagonal. Its favorable exposure to the sun will be programmed with terraces and seating areas, as well as elements for sports- and leisure activities.

Photo of model
Aerial visualisation of Hafencity

Programmatic flexibility
The district of Elbbrücken will be developed over a long period. It is therefore hard to predict the market capacity for various residential typologies and the future demand for office space. In order to ensure a continuous development, a great deal of flexibility in program would be desirable. However, as the northern and eastern fringes are exposed to substantial noise pollution from rail- and road traffic these parts are less suitable for residential use. A consistent building structure along the Versmannstraße is therefore a prerequisite for the possibility to develop housing north of the Lucy Borchard strasse.

The office “strip” running along the Versmannstraße can be broken down into smaller development phases. This subdivision through architectural variation will allow for office buildings to form their own identity and addresses, and help reflect noise in a better way. Dividing into separate, connected volumes also makes it possible to locate smaller companies here.

By offering a broad range of housing typologies, the residential development of Elbbrücken can more easily be absorbed by the marked. We see the large courtyards, with their protected, generous outdoor areas as a form of development that would be particularly attractive to families with children. In addition, while smaller apartments would appeal to younger residents, penthouses with astonishing views of the Elbe and the Baakenhafen might attract households without children. This would again ensure a heterogeneous population within each of the plots.

North facade
South facade
West section
Visualisation of Hafencity

Reduction of environmental impact
We see no contradiction between designing a plan that offers maximum noise suppression for the urban spaces and residential areas and a plan that offers contemporary office space with great exposure. With the source of noise pollution situated mainly to the northeast and the desired views and sun direction to the south-west, building heights will increase accordingly.

Sustainable growth – The walkable city

By developing a high-density urban district, residential-, office- and leisure programs are located next to a major transport hub. This will offer an attractive, safe and largely car-free center. Short distances in combination with a good network for soft mobility will affect the driving habits within the district and help create a walkable city.