24. Jan 2014

A container for containers
“HafenCity Universität” underground station in Hamburg/D

Text: Sonja Kiekens, Moritz Gieselmann
Photos: Markus Tollhopf

Authentic lighting design instead of simply meeting the norms, the subtle interplay of reflected coloured light rather than station walls papered with advertising: that is what “Universität” underground station on the U4 line in Hamburg is all about. A convincing concept, clever planning and expert realisation have transformed a transport facility into a walk-in light sculpture.

At the beginning of the 1990s it became clear to Hamburg municipality exactly what chances had opened up through-out Europe through the fall of the Iron Curtain: from a location on the eastern edge of the western world they could become a metropolis in the heart of a continent that was in the throes of growing back together. The downtown harbour areas were no longer suitable for modern-day shipping traffic, which is operated to over 90 per cent using container ships. The Container Terminal Altenwerder was built to the south of Hamburg on the River Elbe. The old, disused docks on the waterfront near to the city centre gave rise to the opportunity to develop a whole new urban quarter. A city planning competition was staged in 2000 to gather ideas for creating a master plan. This already entailed using HafenCity, as it has come to be known, to mark the start of a new economic, social and cultural era. The new quarter was to serve as a model for downtown areas in European cities in the 21stcentury, also with regard to mobility within the city infrastructure: HafenCity comprises five kilometres of roads, ten kilometres of footpaths and pavements, only a third of which are directly along the automobile traffic routes. A key priority was to connect the new quarter to existing public transport networks: besides a new bus route and anew tram stop, it is the new underground – the U4 line –that connects HafenCity directly to Jungfernstieg (the south bank of the Inner Alster Lake) and the main railway station. Once completed, the U4 line will be handling 35,000 passengers a day. The “Baakenhafen” quarter is an inner harbour and has been integrally linked to HafenCity since 2011. One of the first structures to be built here is the new HafenCity University for Architecture and Metropolitan Development. It is due to be opened at the end of 2013. The entire Baakenhafen quarter is also a model for sustainable urban mobility, which is why it was essential that the new underground railway line was put into operation in good time. In 2006 a competition was staged for the design of “Universität” station. It was won by Raupach Architekten together with Pfarré Lighting Design and the design practice Stauss & Pedrazzini Partnerschaft. Raupach Architekten describe their concept as follows: “The design responds to features naturally associated with Hamburg as a sea port, to the colours of the brick facades and the steel hulls of the ships as they changeover the seasons and in the course of one day, and from the point of view of form to the shapes of the containers that are packed onto the ships. The material quality of the station features steel, colour and light”. […]

The full version of the article can be found in PLD No. 91
And our PLD magazine app (iPad App Store) contains a media-enhanced version.

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