The Tibbalds team has recently returned from our annual study trip – to Hamburg this year. We enjoyed a tour around HafenCity – currently the largest residential regeneration project in Europe. A masterplan guides the urban regeneration of the old port warehouses of Hamburg, introducing offices, hotels, shops, university buildings, and residential areas, which will become home to around 12,000 people and provide around 40,000 new jobs.
We were impressed by both the architecture and urban design of this new quarter. The buildings and layout worked seamlessly to guide users into and around the area. Regular building heights and consistent frontages created a consistent identity for the new offices and apartments, interspersed with a handful of dramatic landmark buildings, such as Herzog and De Meuron’s Elbe Philharmonic Hall. We were impressed with the consistently high standards of building design, which were simple yet well considered. They were complemented by a series of interesting and engaging public spaces – particularly the magnificent children’s playpark which brought out the inner child in many of us!
Following HafenCity we were taken on a guided tour around a residential exhibition, featuring a number of prototype buildings that use experimental eco-friendly building techniques, for instance using bio-reactor facades which generate their own energy and provide solar shading. This was part of a much larger regeneration project in Willhemsburg, an isolated area that originally housed the city’s dock workers. Like many similar areas in Britain, this had been the victim of 20C planning and was characterised by tower blocks, concrete architecture and vast undefined open spaces. Hamburg was in the process of successfully retrofitting this landscape by infilling empty space and refurbishing some of the more successful buildings. This approach was sensitive and particularly relevant to some of the estate regeneration work we undertake in the office.
The city was also contributing to local economic regeneration by relocating the State for Urban Development and the Environment into the town centre. Housed in a colourful Sauerbruch Hutton building, this has created an anchor and brought a large employer into Wilhemsburg, which will hopefully generate more economic opportunities.
Later, we started off the evening with cocktails at the rooftop bar of the Empire Riverside Hotel designed by David Chipperfield, from where we also drank in the amazing views as the sun set. A good dinner at our hotel followed, and the more energetic members of the team then went on to sample the local bars.