An exemplary showcase for urban planning, livability, and architecture, Hamburg’s new HafenCity (Harbor City) district continues to expand in size and significance. As further construction is completed, upscale retailers, restaurants, and cultural venues are moving into the trendy new neighborhood, attracting visitors and locals alike. HafenCity is not only Europe’s largest inner-city development project, but has also become one of Hamburg’s must visited tourism spots.
The newly designed high-end neighborhood spreads out over 392 acres in a former industrial dockland area, located between the Elbe river and the historic red brick warehouse district. The modern design, waterfront location, and ueber-hip vibe of this visionary project make HafenCity a sought after place to live, work and play. A model for sustainable urban planning, HafenCity earned Hamburg the designation “European Green Capital.” Visitors can explore the area on waterfront pedestrian and bike pathways, and watch ocean liners and cruise ships passing on the Elbe River.
The 25hours Hotel HafenCity opened in July 2011 and has already been awarded the prestigious Travel+Leisure Design Award 2012. Located near the docks, the hotel boasts a cool maritime theme, individually designed guest rooms, a hearty restaurant, Mini rental cars, and discounts for guests under 25 (www.25hours-hotels.com).
HafenCity’s restaurants and shopping are mainly located in the central Übersee Quarter. Opting for open skies rather than indoor malls, retailers include international and local labels, but also grocers and bakeries. Among the spring 2012 openings is the young German fashion label Dannemann-Pure (www.dannenmann-pure.com), presenting high-end styles made of natural materials, as well as men’s store Stilhaus Blocker, which features top of the line fashion, personal shoppers, and style consultants (Überseeboulevard 2). The design market Der.Die.Sein Markt opened its season in March 2012, and is the event of choice for unusual souvenirs, jewelry, fashion, handcrafts and art. Taking place each Saturday in the Unilever House inner courtyard, the market features some 45 local artists and designers, live music, and sweeping Elbe river views.
The completed part of HafenCity already offers a choice of restaurants, ranging from fish sandwiches to gourmet dining. New additions to the culinary scene are LaBaracca, open since in September 2011, which offers upscale Italian fare in a dining room decorated with a mix of vintage and contemporary designs (Sandtorkai 44).
The opening of Coast by East and the SansiBar Wine Bar in early summer of 2012 is highly anticipated. Inspired by the legendary SansiBar on the island of Sylt, the new venue at Marco Polo terraces serves up an Asian cuisine rich on seafood (Grosser Graasbrook 14). Bordering HafenCity, in the historic Speicherstadt warehouse district, Wasserschloss Speicherstadt opened in fall of 2011.
Scheduled to open in November 2014 at the tip of the Sandtorhafen, the prominent center piece of HafenCity, the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, is already an architectural and cultural event of epic proportions. Poised to become Hamburg’s new landmark building, it stretches out over the Elbe River like the bow of a gloriously illuminated ship. Envisioned by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, the glass façade on top of the solid brick foundation – a former cocoa warehouse – seems to be floating above the water. Construction site tours are being offered, but advance reservations are required at www.elbphilharmonie.de.
Summer in HafenCity means relaxing on the waterfront. Every Sunday from early June through the end of August a myriad of activities unfold along the water: live music, dance and fashion are just some of the highlights of this year’s HafenCity summertime program. Information on HafenCity can be found at Kesselhaus InfoCenter, an historic brick building dating back to the end of the 19th Century. Walking and bike tours of HafenCity are offered throughout the summer.