Oberhafen Hamburg
Scope for creative minds

The initial situation

The city of Hamburg has decided to develop a creative quarter in Hamburg’s Oberhafen district. The Oberhafen district has an area of 3 hectares, it is not flood protected, and the area’s existing buildings include 20,000 sqm of warehouses. It is a 10-minute walk away from Hamburg’s main railway station, and a new underground station is being built close-by. The old harbour area is owned by the city and provides a link between the city centre, the new Hafencity district, the area of the wholesale market, the Rothenburgsort district and the Veddel district. 2015 will see the end of the utilisation of the area by the railway company, which currently still primarily uses it.

The challenge

In general, traditional land-use planning methods do not sufficiently meet the needs of creatively oriented economic stakeholders. Spaces must be left open in the long term and remain versatile in order to create a lively district. To attract a creative milieu, cheap rents and proximity to the city centre are not enough. Networks must be created that interested parties can tap into to be able to develop demand-oriented support structures and to present themselves to the outside world.

The goal

The Oberhafen district is turning into a hotspot that puts Hamburg in a position to be able to compete for creative talent internationally, it provides structures for a professional creative environment and holds cultural value for the residents of Hamburg.


Promotional activities such as open days will call the attention of Hamburg’s residents and creative stakeholders to the Oberhafen district.

Events on specific topics, work groups, concerts, round table discussions and workshops will give creative professionals the opportunity to get involved in the development of the Oberhafen district.

Exchange among stakeholders and their practical experiences will form the basis for the development and implementation of structures and approaches that can be capitalised on when it comes to developing the Oberhafen district starting in 2015.

The method

Oberhafen e. V. is a network set up to continue the dialogue initiated by the city of Hamburg during the “Symposium Transformationsraum Oberhafen” (symposium transformation space Oberhafen) in 2011. It is an open forum for all stakeholders – politicians and administrators, creative professionals and the general population.

Oberhafen e. V. sets out to promote the gentle and sustainable development of Hamburg’s Oberhafen district into a lively, intelligent, self-contained, largely economically self-sufficient and organically growing district taking into account aspects of art, culture and creativity.

Oberhafen e. V. has set itself the task of helping to create ideal conditions for creative work in the Oberhafen district. The idea is for the Oberhafen district to develop freely and without being influenced by major planning processes and to emerge from a bottom-up process.

New answers must be found to such issues as energy supply, flood protection, collaborative work, economic chains and cycles, and the demands of art and culture on urban space.
The main focus of Oberhafen e. V. is on developing a district creatively, rather than developing a creative district.

Oberhafen e. V. shapes the future of the area by playing a part in its development, creating room for experimental event formats and activities, and by generating ideas and finding partners for the development of the Oberhafen district.

To ensure transparency and participation, Oberhafen e. V. continuously documents the process and its different stages and publishes interim results.

Oberhafen e. V. discusses its experiences and approaches with other national and European creative quarters.

The association provides online information in various formats and has created a game to generate ideas for the Oberhafen district and engages a wide community of stakeholders.

Oberhafen e. V. brings together creative talents in interest-driven communities. New collaborations and supervisory consultations further enhance the quality of the working environment for the individual stakeholders.

Looking ahead, networks and value chains will be created that will be able to attract funding from network support bodies and from European infrastructure funds.


Infobroschüre der Hafencity