SQUARES, PARKS AND PROMENADES IN THE HEART OF THE CITY
The promenades and squares of HafenCity playfully interact with the most essential of all elements – water
The presence of squares, parks and promenades in cities has long been the sign of a high quality of life, and often forms a cornerstone for urban planners wanting to create a people-friendly environment for living and working. To be successful, a European city for the 21st century needs to give a high priority to its open spaces, with careful planning and attention to quality. HafenCity has taken this approach in the development of its public open spaces, a fact that is strongly reflected in current plans.
In February 2000, the strategic framework for creating a new, open and green city was firmly laid down in the Masterplan for HafenCity. This will be the basis for any future town planning and open space planning considerations.
The Masterplan contains details of the areas given over to open space. There will be plenty of diversity with 35 hectares of parks (Lohsepark, Sandtorpark, Grasbrookpark), more than 10 kilometres of promenades, and squares and water areas at Magdeburgerhafen, Grasbrookhafen and Sandtorhafen harbours. Importance has been attached to careful integration into the surrounding open spaces and the lowlands of the River Elbe and the River Bille. For example, the Elbe riverside walking route will pass through HafenCity, leading along its promenades. It is a declared aim of the plan to integrate HafenCity's green spaces into the existing belt of parks that surround the city centre along the line of the former city fortifications.
Mediterranean concept: Benedetta Tagliabue of EMBT convinced the competition judges (© EMBT)
In 2002 the open space concept for the western part of HafenCity was initialy approved, following an international competition. The internationally renowned architects Enrique Miralles Benedetta Tagliabue (EMBT) of Barcelona won the first prize with a light, free and elegant design. The existing harbour basins – originally constructed from a purely functional point of view – are brought to life and put into a human scale. The artistic expressiveness of this open space concept is unrivalled in Europe.
Sophisticated design is one important factor for the square at Sandtorhafen, but the scene will be completed by the people and the backdrop, creating an almost stage-like effect. Construction work will be finished by early summer 2005. Framed by Sandtorkai and Am Kaiserkai and embraced by the surrounding architecture, this first city square – at around 5,000 square metres – will bring water and land together on many levels. Water steps turn the ebb and flood of the tide into an event to be experienced, constantly altering the shape of the space. Ornaments decorate the elegantly designed ground areas and retaining walls depict abstracted fish forms on their surfaces. In the evening, artistic lighting illuminates the scene with steel light spirals playfully scattered around the square.
Restaurants and cafés, festivals, concerts, and other events will bring the entire area surrounding Sandtorhafen harbour to life. At the same time, the square will act as a the gateway to the museum ship harbour. Pontoons that vary in size and shape will provide access to the historic harbour basins allowing them to be viewed from a whole new perspective. Historic ships and cranes representing the maritime heritage of Hamburg will be open to visitors from 2006.
Barcelona architectural firm EMBT was the pick of the bunch with its powerfully evocative Mediterranean-influenced design (© EMBT)