Hamburg's Eco-City: Sustainable Creative-Industrial Complex

hamburg eco-city photo
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Rendering of repurposed structures and turbine towers in Hamburg's new eco-city.

On the forgotten shores of Hamburg's Harburg Harbor, once busy with ship building, the site of a former comb factory has been repurposed to house an eco-minded development, combining a modern futuristic look with restored historic buildings and classic industry architecture. While Germany's environmental initiatives are ahead of the curve, from creating green jobs to organic fast food, this is the country's first eco-city. Transforming a previously bustling industrial area into a sustainable development is real urban renewal. With Phase I complete, the next stage is even more ambitious.

wind turbine tower photo

As westerly winds blow off the North Sea, two large wind turbines on top of the high-rise towers will generate more than 10% of the complex's power. Solar water heating offsets the use of natural gas and powers the lighting as well as capitalizing on natural light. Eco-friendly and reused materials from the previous structures have been used in the construction and passive design techniques reduce energy consumption by 30 percent. Green roofs slow storm water runoff and green beltways on the second level include vertical gardens to enhance outdoor recreation. Over 40 percent of the total space is open air with pedestrian-friendly plazas.

eco city plaza photo

TecARCHITECTURE, which specializes in sustainable hi-tech designs, "inspired by structures and processes of nature," teamed up with ARUP engineering for this state-of-the-art project, embracing environmental/social/economic principles. It's designed to achieve the highest certification from three global green building rating systems — LEED, BREEAM and the German Sustainable Building Council (GSBC). When the final plan is complete, ten structures will bring large-scale industry and creative start-ups together with spaces from studio-size to warehouse and production facilities.

eco city hamburg photo

The first tenant, Heidelberger Druckmaschinen AG, a manufacturer of printing presses, feeds Hamburg's vital publishing business and its interactive showroom displays the advances in environmental printing methods.

Appropriately called a Creative-Industrial Environment with its mixed use of entertainment and business, this latest eco-city complex is walkable from public transportation and easily biked to. Phase II includes a high-rise office building, hotel, restaurant, and retail spaces to convert the area into a destination spot along the Elbe River.