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8 Reasons Every Architect Should Visit Hamburg

Hamburg has been a center of culture for over 1,000 years.

Eric Baldwin Eric Baldwin

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Hamburg has been a center of culture for over 1,000 years. From its medieval roots as a castle between the River Alster and the River Elbe to its modern role as one of Europe’s major transport hubs, the city has continuously shaped development and cultural exchange. Internationally recognized for its progressive urban planning, Hamburg has been designed with rigorous attention to its waterfront. Today, the city continues to reimagine its urban fabric through transformative cultural projects.

Centering around a redevelopment known as HafenCity, Hamburg’s new architecture and urban regeneration projects are as impressive as they are diverse. We’ve rounded up the following collection of cultural projects throughout Hamburg to showcase its contemporary building trends. Moving beyond the city’s iconic churches and patrician mansions, the subsequent designs explore new ideas on urbanism and public space. Together, they begin to embody Hamburg’s nickname, Tor zur Welt — the Gateway to the World.

Joachim Herz Foundation by Kitzmann Architekten, Hamburg, Germany

Built around Joachim Herz’s former office that was once a coffee roastery, the new headquarters for the Joachim Herz Foundation links to the original roasting tower. The new building is divided into an eastern and a western part, which is connected by a bridge in the second level. The project includes a semi-public patio, a two-story entrance hall and a generous lake terrace with a newly designed garden.

Ecumenical Forum by Wandel Lorch Architekten, Hamburg, Germany

Combining a town house and a sacred building, the Ecumenical Forum was created from the association of 19 Christian denominations. Three sculptural embossments highlight the chapel’s key religious aspects through concave façade shapes.

Hamburg-Harburg Technical University by gmp von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects, Hamburg, Germany

GMP’s new main building at Technische Universität Hamburg-Harburg is located on the site of the former Schwarzenbergkaserne (Schwarzenberg Barracks). The original building was stripped out and fully refurbished while two new glass cubes feature vertical aluminum tubes and stainless steel cable façades installed in between steel U-profiles.

Hafencity Public Spaces by Miralles Tagliabue EMBT, Hamburg, Germany

This Hafencity project develops a new public space within an existing harbor structure. Restructuring the industrial wasteland, the design is divided in 15 separate parcels that aim to integrate the existing historic heritage of the harbour into the new Hafencity development around the river Elbe.

Energy Bunker by HHS Planer + Architekten AG (Hegger Hegger Schleiff Architekten), Hamburg, Germany

Building upon the war ruins of the Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg flak bunker, Energy Bunker centers around a large-scale buffer storage facility. As a memorial and landmark monument, the project helps showcase sustainable strategies to the public by converting up to 85 percent of its heat from renewable sources of energy.

Architecture Pavilion by gmp von Gerkan, Marg and Partners Architects, Hamburg, Germany

Located between Elbchaussee and Oevelgönne museum port, gmp’s Architecture Pavilion was built to showcase sketches and hand drawings. The sketches are exhibited on three levels adjacent to the building’s generous terraces and large room-high windows looking out to the surrounding context.

HafenCity by KCAP Architects & Planners, Hamburg, Germany

HafenCity is an urban transformation project located in the former port area along the River Elbe. Taking an approach to planning that combines fixed basic principles and operationally manageable rules, the design mixes space for living, culture, business and leisure while simultaneously allowing a symbiotic relationship between the urban fabric and the waterfront.

230 Elbphilharmonie by Herzog & de Meuron, Hamburg, Germany

Designed to be a cultural center for locals and visitors alike, the Philharmonic halls builds off the Kaispeicher warehouse that lies beneath it. Oriented to views across the Elbe river and towards downtown Hamburg, the project is nearing completion as a visible landmark symbolizing Hamburg’s waterfront development.

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