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HafenCity Hamburg GmbH

Integrated development management

Major urban development projects call for strong interaction and coalescence between conception and realization. In particular, the considerable intricacy involved in securing and closely coordinating public investment (around €3 billion, of which approx. €1.5 billion is revenue from the sale of land) with acquisition of private investment (around €10 billion) results in very complex responsibilities and demands strong management.

In 1995 a port and location development company (GHS) was set up to manage the development of HafenCity – since 2004 it has been known as HafenCity Hamburg GmbH. It is responsible for the “special city and port fund”, which consists of land owned by the City of Hamburg located in the HafenCity area. The sale of these sites provides finance for the lion’s share of public investment in HafenCity, notably roads, bridges, squares, parks, quays and promenades.  

In addition to this financing responsibility, HafenCity Hamburg GmbH also clears and prepares sites, plans and builds public spaces as well as infrastructure, acquires and contracts real estate developers and users, and is responsible for public relations and communication. At the same time, HafenCity Hamburg GmbH opens up pathways to innovation in urban development, especially relating to urbanity and sustainability. Sustainability aspects include innovative heat supply, a purpose-built sustainability certification scheme for buildings and sustainable mobility concepts, but also flood protection and the development of an altogether sustainable urban structure.

HafenCityHamburg GmbH can call on a very broad range of expertise in its task of integrated urban development: staff come from the fields of engineering, urban planning, land development, economics, cultural studies, humanities and social sciences, geography and landscape architecture. They cooperate closely and, starting from land areas initially owned by the city, seek to follow the principle of value creation in building the city of tomorrow.

Public accountability

HafenCity Hamburg GmbH is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg. The company is developing HafenCity at Hamburg’s behest. Public supervision, cooperation, and the division of responsibilities are demanding: because of HafenCity’s significance for the overall development of Hamburg, the new urban district was declared a priority area in 2006. For this reason HafenCity development is not supervised by Hamburg-Mitte district authority, but managed at city level. The HafenCity Hamburg GmbH supervisory board – chaired by the first mayor – is made up almost exclusively of members of the city senate. Sales and options (with an obligation to plan) on land purchases have to be approved by the Land Commission; zoning plans are processed in the Ministry of Urban Development and Housing by the HafenCity task force and then put before the Commission of Urban Development for consultation and approval (both bodies consist mainly of parliamentary and local government representatives).  

Building permits for HafenCity are handled by the Office for building Regulations and Structural Engineering at the BSW. As well as including private developers and independent architects, juries for urban planning and open space competitions and for competitions for individual buildings are drawn from the BSW (chief planning officer), the district council, the management of HafenCity Hamburg GmbH and politics (representatives of Mitte district or the city parliament) as well as two HafenCity residents in an advisory capacity.

By concentrating non-official functions in a dedicated development company of its own, Hamburg can ensure the integrated planning and realization of the distract and the efficiency and quality of the urban development project. It also creates the conditions for a strong focus on innovation while guaranteeing a high degree of public accountability.

New projects

Today HafenCity Hamburg GmbH has additional new responsibilities, including the development of a whole new inner-city transformation area comprising Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld, Billebogen and Grasbrook. Through its subsidiary, Billebogen Entwicklungsgesellschaft mbH (BBEG) it is responsible for managing the development of a 95 ha area known as Billebogen, adjoining HafenCity to the northeast. This site comprises both built and undeveloped areas and includes the new intermodal rail station. During the coming 20 years a high-quality urban development zone on the fringes of HafenCity will emerge – comprising mainly trade and industrial workplaces in a densely built urban structure – generating important impulses for the whole of eastern Hamburg and the inner city. As well as reinforcing the urban qualities of an inner-city entryway crisscrossed by transport routes, it will also generate jobs, many of them in in new buildings with vertically aligned spaces.

Hamburg’s new Grasbrook urban development area – south of the River Elbe and opposite eastern HafenCity – offers space for offices, commercial buildings, research facilities and laboratories and well as housing. Plans are for 16,000 jobs, 3,000 homes for about 6,000 residents and shopping facility, a primary school and kindergartens. About 910,000 m² gross floor area above ground will be created on a space of around 47 ha. The project will create 4.9 km of publicly accessible waterfront areas combined with attractive green spaces and high-quality public urban space. It will be an innovation district with new urban structures and sustainable building and infrastructure solutions for Hamburg’s future.

HafenCity Hamburg GmbH has taken on a new task with its subsidiary Science City Hamburg Bahrenfeld GmbH (SC GmbH). For the first time in Hamburg’s history, knowledge development and urban development are being strategically interlocked in a district, with the integration of academia, research-related industry and housing thought through. Starting from the existing research campus (DESY), coming years will see the creation of new high-quality urban areas, with research institutes and knowledge-based workplaces as well as mixed-use “innovative” residential concepts. Attractive recreation and leisure areas are also planned, as is a direct connection to Hamburg’s rapid transit rail network. In the district, many of the solutions already being prepared today will take on a further distinctive form.


About HafenCity

Europe’s largest inner-city urban development area as a blueprint for the new European city on the waterfront.


New responsibilities

HafenCity Hamburg GmbH has additional new responsibilities, including the development of a whole new inner-city transformation area comprising Science City, Billebogen and Grasbrook.


Executive board

HafenCity Hamburg GmbH is managed by Dr. Andreas Kleinau (CEO) and Theresa Twachtmann. Henning Liebig, Dr Gesa Matthes, Nina Schaube and Peter Schulte form the extended management team.

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