Outside of the city of Hamburg, Germany, lies a piece of land that is hard to get to via public transport, on a street which usually appears deserted. Surrounded on both sides by containers, trucks, and industrial storage spaces, it is not what you would normally call an urban, livable place.
But then you look down the street and see the Elbphilharmonie, an impressive new construction redefining the city’s skyline. When you turn around, you can see two interesting buildings from the 1920’s that commemorate Hamburg’s industrial past. If you find a way to get a glimpse over the 6.4 ft high wall installed for flood protection, you will realize that opposite these buildings lies a small forgotten port along the river Elbe.
There are many physical barriers keeping the locals from identifying the area’s value and potential. But in a city with a very competitive real estate market, the question becomes inevitable: has this piece of land simply been forgotten – or purposely ignored?
In order to answer that question, one needs to look at the delicate political situation at hand. Owned by the local Port Authorities, it is meant to be for port-related uses only. But if a space has this much potential for revitalization – why make it a site for logistic use only?
It at least seems worth saving the old industrial buildings. After artists and small creative industries were evicted, the buildings are now up for demolition. One of them has been removed already and according to local newspaper Abendblatt is the next one due to be demolished in May 2013. This is why an informal interest group recently formed itself to save the building. Its members – amongst others local politicians, architects and the director of Hamburg’s historical museum – are determined to save this important monument of Hamburg’s past and find a new purpose for it.
Whether the activists and urban planners will achieve a redirection for this site remains unclear. For now, one can only hope that the increasing interest of local media in the matter will at least postpone a precipitant demolition and lead to a more thought-out solution for this property before it’s too late.
What do you think – is there a way to overcome the physical barriers and draw positive attention to this area?
Credits: Images by Luise Letzner. Data linked to sources.