at Niederhafen on the Elbe River between St. Pauli Landungsbrücken and
Baumwall in Hamburg, the upgraded 625 metre river promenade is integral
to the modernisation and reinforcement of the city’s flood protection
In the aftermath of storm surge floods
in February 1962 that caused 315 fatalities and destroyed the homes of
60,000 residents, between 1964 and 1968 Hamburg developed a barrier on
the banks of the Elbe at Niederhafen to protect
the city against floods up to a height of 7.20m above sea level.
Modern hydrology and computer
simulations have since analysed and forecast the city’s flooding
characteristics with greater accuracy; calculating that an increase in
the barrier height of 0.80m was required to protect Hamburg
from future winter storm surges and extreme high tides.
Inspections of Niederhafen’s existing
flood barrier in 2006 determined that supporting elements of the
existing structure were overburdened and its foundations needed
significant reinforcement. Later that year, the city of
Hamburg organised a competition to design the redeveloped flood barrier
and subsequently awarded the project to Zaha Hadid Architects.
Hamburg’s Niederhafen flood protection
barrier is in a prominent location that incorporates the city’s
renowned riverside promenade – a major attraction for tourists and one
of Hamburg’s most important public spaces. Situated
on top of the flood protection barrier, the promenade provides
undisturbed views of the Elbe and the port.
With construction of all phases now
complete, the redevelopment of Hamburg’s Niederhafen flood protection
barrier re-connects its river promenade with the surrounding urban
fabric of the city; serving as a popular riverside
walkway while also creating links with adjacent neighbourhoods.
The linear structure is 8.60m above
sea level in its eastern section and 8.90m above sea level in its
western section to protect the city from maximum winter storm surges and
extreme high tides.
A minimum width of ten metres ensures
this popular riverside promenade offers generous public spaces for
pedestrians, joggers, street performers, food stalls and cafes. Shops
and public utilities are also accommodated within
the structure at street level facing the city.
Wide staircases resembling small
amphitheatres are carved within the flood protection barrier at points
where streets from the adjacent neighbourhoods meet the structure;
giving passers-by at street level views of the people
strolling along the promenade at the top of the barrier as well as
views of the masts and superstructures of ships in the Elbe.
These staircases are orientated
towards their intersecting city streets: Stubbenhuk, Neustädter Neuer
Weg, Rambachstraße, Reimarusstraße and Ditmar-Koel-Straße. New
pedestrian crossings connect each street with the river promenade.
Alternating with these city-facing
stairs, similar amphitheatres facing the river are also carved within
the structure; generating an oscillating sequence in the river promenade
as it repeatedly widens and narrows.
Dedicated cycle lanes at street level
run the length of the flood protection barrier. Wide ramps at Baumwell
and Landungsbrücken connect the river promenade with street level and
provide accessibility for all. A third central
ramp enables service vehicles to access the promenade and
The river promenade is divided into
two sections with different spatial qualities. The zone to the west is
at a larger scale, offering wide views downstream of all shipping
activity on the river. To the east, the port’s marina
creates a more intimate atmosphere with a long ramp alongside the
amphitheatre leading visitors down to the water’s edge.
A three-storey restaurant and two food kiosks are integrated within the flood protection structure. The top floor of the restaurant cantilevers over its adjacent staircase and gives diners panoramic views of the Elbe.
Pedestrian areas of the promenade are clad in a dark, anthracite-coloured granite that contrasts with the light grey granite of the staircases.
|Source : Zaha Hadid Architects.|