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Zaha Hadid Architects completes river promenade in Hamburg

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The 625m-long promenade at Niederhafen on the Elbe river is a key part of the city’s flood protection system

Located between St Pauli Landungsbrücken and Baumwall, the upgraded river promenade incorporates a restaurant, food kiosks and cycle lanes. 

The linear structure is 8.6m above sea level at its eastern section and 8.9m at its western section, the level needed to protect the city from maximum winter storm surges and extreme high tides. It is designed also to reconnect the riverfront to the surrounding urban fabric – serving both as a walkway and also creating links to adjacent neighbourhoods.

16 zha hamburgriverpromenade ©pietniemann

16 zha hamburgriverpromenade ©pietniemann

Architect’s view

A minimum width of 10 metres ensures this popular riverside promenade offers generous public spaces for pedestrians, joggers, street performers, food stalls and cafés. 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 views of people strolling along the promenade as well as 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 run the length of the flood protection barrier. Wide ramps at Baumwell and Landungsbrücken connect the river promenade with street level and provide accessibility. A third central ramp enables service vehicles to access the promenade and Überseebrücke. 

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. 

05 zha hamburgriverpromenade ©pietniemann

05 zha hamburgriverpromenade ©pietniemann

Project data 

Architect Zaha Hadid Architects
Client Hamburg Road, Bridge, Waterways & Flood Protection Agency (LSBG)
Project planning Ingenieurbüro Grassl Gmbh
Support structure planning Ingenieurbüro Grassl Gmbh
Road and traffic planning Schmeck-Junker Ingenieurgesellschaft Mbh
Technical building services Rmn Ingenieure
Geotechnical consulting Grundbauingenieure Steinfield Und Partner Gbr
Environmental impact assessment Landschaft & Plan

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