Urban Development in Germany

The Mix Is What Matters – The IBA Hamburg

Following seven years of preparation, the Internationale Bauausstellung (IBA) Hamburg was opened in March 2013. Focal points of this IBA are not only urgent future-related questions such as how construction can be realised in ways that are more resource-friendly, energy optimised, and socially and economically compatible, but also the transformation of an entire city district, Hamburg-Wilhelmsburg.

Wilhelmsburg Centre: Bauausstellung in der Bauausstellung, Photo: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Falcon Crest Air

The neighbourhood, located on the southern side of the Elbe, and which was long part of the Harburg-Harburg district, was incorporated into Hamburg-Mitte only in 2008. Up until now, Wilhelmsburg had not been all that popular as a residential area. Following the major storm surge and flooding of 1962, brief consideration was even given to abandoning the area. In his film, Soul Kitchen, Fatih Akin provides a sympathetic and lively portrait of this Hanseatic outsider. In the midst of brick housing developments from the 20’s through the 50’s, allotment garden areas, canals, port facilities and rocked-out industrial charm, many migrants have found affordable housing here, and the subculture a venue for alternative ways of life.

„A building exhibition in the building exhibition“

Wilhelmsburg Centre: Entrance, Photo: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Bernadette Grimmenstein

The IBA creators around Uli Hellweg had taken their time developing a concept for the construction exhibition. They wished to develop sensitive interventions and new forms of communication, to initialise their urban-development goals and themes for the city of the future: the city and climate change, cosmopolis (the intercultural city), and metrozones (the internal fault-lines and fallow land in the neighbourhood). The “Bauausstellung in der Bauausstellung” (i.e. building exhibition in the building exhibition) is accessibly located in Wilhelmsburg’s Neue Mitte, directly next to the S-Bahn station Wilhelmsburg, and directly accross from the new senate building by Sauerbruch Hutton Architekten of Berlin.

WaterHouses in April 2013, Photo: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Johannes Arlt

Here, with energy-efficient building prototypes, investors and architects present leading-edge, climate-friendly solutions for the future of construction and residential space. Among those represented are: Smart Price Houses by BeL Sozietät für Architektur BDA, Kennedy & Violich Architecture, 360 grad + architekten gmbH, Fusi & Amann Architekten Adjaye Associates and Planpark Architekten, Waterhouses by Schenk & Waibliner Architekten and the convertible Hybrid Houses by Bieling Architekten. Far more sustainable for the heterogeneous resident population of the entire district are the adjoining projects, which stand out as a mixture of residential space, living, work and leisure time, and of private and public areas.

Flexible-use architecture

Inselparkhalle, Photo: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Bernadette Grimmenstein

The building of the InselAkademie by Bolles + Wilson and H.O. Dieter Schoppe + Partner Landschaftsarchitekten is one example. This project developed from the initiative of the non-profit association Sport ohne Grenzen, co-founded by the former German national basketball player Marvin Willoughby. Together with trainers, social workers and sports researchers, young people are encouraged and find space for learning, communication and living. The attendant sports facilities, with social and integrative functions for the entire district, are in the southern part of the quarter.

Sprach- und Bewegungszentrum, Photo: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Bernadette GrimmensteinThe Munich architects Allmann Sattler und Wappner have conceived a complex combining swimming and sport facilities, half of which can be used temporarily for the Internationale Gartenschau (IGS) running parallel from June to October 2013. The façade of the complex, with approx. 11,000 square meters total floor space, has a variety of surfaces of wood, glass, aluminium and vertical greening - a principle that once again directs our attention to the ways in which resource-friendly construction can also be conceived as flexible-use architecture, interim solutions included.

Sensitive neighbourhood development

Neue Hamburger Terrassen, apartment building hauschild+siegel architecture, Photo: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Bernadette Grimmenstein

However, the IBA in Wilhelmsburg shows its true strengths in the projects located outside Neue Mitte, such as the Neue Hamburger Terrassen. Hauschild + Siegel Architecture have created a residential mix for single to four-person households for their multistorey residential building. In this publically subsidised building, tenant-friendly community spaces and semi-private intermediate areas and free spaces are integrated, rendering the architecture useable for all generations. Their approach to “Making the simple well and not permitting it to become banal,” thus the jury of the Hamburg BDA Architecture Award for 2012, was convincing and resulted in their nomination for a first prize.

Weltquartier, Photo: IBA Hamburg GmbH / Martin Kunze

But not only new buildings characterise the IBA in Wilhelmsburg. A joint project team of the municipal housing company SAGA GWG and the IBA Hamburg GmbH has opted for sensitive neighbourhood development in the southern Reihersteigviertel with the renovation of a typical workers’ housing settlement of the 1930’s, and has had intercultural dialogue among real-estate owners, users, building and landscape architects and urban planners precede the renovation itself. People from over 20 countries make their homes here, and will be able to continue to use this affordable residential space after the complete renovation of the foundations and features such as spacious loggias, and – for the first time – installation of bathtubs and kitchens with dining areas. This balancing-act between renovation and revitalisation with new dialogical approaches to planning defines the Hamburg IBA, which makes architectural and urban-planning qualities tangible for a multicultural and urban society. The result is diversity within a cityscape that had long been written off, and which turns not only Hamburg residents into discoverers of their metropolis.
Ute Maasberg
is a curator and publicist. She lives in Hannover.

Translation: Edith C. Watts
Copyright: Goethe-Institut e. V., Internet-Redaktion
Octobre 2013

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