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The port as a free space for the district

Opening of the Spreehafen

Gewerbeboote im Spreehafen – Öffnung des Spreehafens, Bild: Martin Kunze Zollzaun vor der Öffnung, Bild: Martin Kunze Bauarbeiten im Juli 2012 – Öffnung des Spreehafens, Bild: Martin Kunze Bauarbeiten im Juli 2012 – Öffnung des Spreehafens, Bild: Martin Kunze Zollzaunöffnung im Juli 2011, Bild: Martin Kunze Picknick auf dem Spreehafendeich, Bild: Martin Kunze


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Opening of the Spreehafen

The Spreehafen is a diverse blend of elements: a high dyke sheltering peaceful landscapes, sweeping views of the large dock, trade along the water, and the harbour and city centre skyline.

For decades, the symbol of the Spreehafen was its 2 kilometre long, 3 metre high customs fence, topped with barbed wire. This prevented local residents of the Reiherstieg district to the north from making a shortcut from Harburger Chaussee to the front of the harbour. When the customs-free area is abolished in 2013, for quite different reasons, the district's long-cherished wish will become a reality, as the customs fence around the Spreehafen dyke will be dismantled.

Back in 2010, two and a half years before the pending abolition of the customs-free area, the IBA Hamburg prompted the opening of two new gateways in the fence, significantly reducing the route to the Spreehafen. Since then, the large harbour basin, with Hamburg's biggest cluster of floating houses, houseboats, and harbour dwellers, has developed into a common open space for the residents of Veddel, the Reiherstieg district, and Kleiner Grasbrook, a housing development on Harburger Chaussee. The footpaths and cycle routes along the new harbour railway bridge, completed in 2011 by the Hamburg Port Authority at the IBA's instigation, have also made an important contribution to this transformation. They mended a gap in the network of routes and cut the cycle time from Stübenplatz in the Reiherstieg district to the eastern end of HafenCity from 23 to 18 minutes.

More new interlinking paths are being created on the Spreehafen dyke, which was long out of bounds due to the customs fence. The Berlin landscape architects Topotek 1 have planned a new type of dyke steps in consultation with the State Office for Roads, Bridges, and Water, among other measures. These steps and paths, which are visible from afar, including from the local neighbourhood, should foster a greater association between the harbour and living standards in the area. By the same token, the Spreehafen will have connections to the north: the Hamburg Port Authority has improved the main cycling route to St Pauli, and extended the ferry connection to Spreehafen from the St Pauli Landungsbrücken (landing stages), at the initiative of the IBA (HADAG ferry line 723, from December 2012).

All of these plans are careful not to destroy the authentic feel of the Spreehafen, which today makes it so attractive to those who come here to walk. This idea is in keeping with the functional requirements of the port, as the basin will continue to be used for harbour purposes in the future. The peripheral location of the harbour ensures that heavy traffic is unlikely to become a problem on the waterfront paths. This is key to the lasting and harmonious coexistence of leisure facilities, the harbour, and industry.

Project Milestones

  • July 2010: opening of the customs fence with two sliding gates
  • October 2011: completion of the footpath and cycle route on the new harbour railway bridge, closing the gap in the circular route around the harbour basin
  • 2012: creation of interconnected paths and routes crossing the dyke
  • Autumn 2012: introduction of the Line 73 ferry service to the Ernst-August Lock jetty, Klütjenfelder Strasse
  • 2013: complete abolition of the customs fence

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Spreehafen, north of Reiherstiegviertel
20457 Hamburg

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