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Hamburg „Harburg inland port“


Revitalising a port

Harburg inland port has been affected by a fundamental structural change since the 1960s. In the beginning, production halls and operating sites were given up. But since 1990, the district has been systematically revitalized. On fallow land and in empty buildings, a "new type of mixed buildings" designed for housing, work and leisure activities is currently being created.


Fleethaus mit Silo im HintergrundSource: channel hamburg e.v.

Harburg inland port is situated north of the town centre of Harburg and bordered by the Süderelbe River and two railway lines. The northern and western sections are used for commercial/industrial purposes and port operations. The rest of the site still features historic buildings in parts, which are being redeveloped and dedicated to new uses.

In the wake of structural economic changes affecting all harbour operations, Harburg inland port lost out against the much larger Hamburg harbour early on. Given this background, the revitalization approach is aimed at developing a district featuring a unique urban identity within the inland port, whilst preserving and further developing various functional and architectural structures.

The structural shift has triggered changes facilitating new forms of coexistence for port operations, industry, service and research jobs as well as housing and recreational uses. Harburg inland port is thus furnished with a new charisma and new locational qualities.

Project description

Neubebauung am Harburger HafenSource: Bernd Breuer, BBSR im BBR

As described in the conceptual framework for the Harburg inland port 2011, the project site, including water areas, measures 131 ha and is characterised by a central transport location. Port operations as well as business and industrial sites had remained active in parts of Harburg inland port and were supported by the Technical University Hamburg-Harburg (TU-HH) locating some of its institutes here. The site also features residential uses, sport boat mooring points and shipyards, as well as green spaces.

Already in 1990, Hamburg City Council had already initiated a development plan for Harburg inland port aimed at building up existing use potentials and enhancing the historic, ecological, topographic and urban design qualities as well as the TU location.

The first stage of the development plan was elaborated by 1993. This plan was subsequently concretized in a second stage applying a detailed urban planning concept. Individual measures put into motion in various locations on the site were based on this concept. They included the conversion of former factory buildings into office buildings, for example. From 1998, diverse new buildings followed, as did the conversion and restoration of silos and storehouses. Numerous historic buildings were restored comprehensively. In order to reduce the through traffic, road spaces had already been redesigned. Another reduction, especially of lorry transit, is envisaged.

Between 2001 and 2003, an important impulse project was created in the shape of the so-called „Channel Tower“. In 2004 and 2005 then, the silo at “Schellerdamm” and the quayside warehouse at “Veritaskai” were revitalised and form the new skyline at the south of the River Elbe. Another important development potential is located on both sides of the eastern train station canal featuring approximately 14 ha of former railway sites. A master plan for offices, services and research as well as 120 residential units was drawn up for this section in 2000. Based on an urban design expert report, approx. 160 apartments are scheduled for construction along the “Kaufhauskanal” (department store canal). The industry canal of the same name is furthermore to be opened up to canoes and rowboats.

The inland port development has meanwhile gained much greater momentum than it had achieved in the mid-90s. It has turned into a lively urban area featuring a mixture of old and new buildings as well as traditional and novel uses. The proximity to the TU-HH and the creation of the TUTech GmbH ensured that numerous technically or scientifically oriented companies could be established in the area, including ten technology companies. The planning of an innovation campus of TUTech GmbH by building and revitalising a historic building being important for the inland port is a consequent continuation of this development.

At the time of writing, the CHANNEL network comprises approximately 160 ventures with a sum total of nearly 6000 employees. They include big conglomerates as well as small high-tech and telecommunication businesses, but also large media companies and international engineering service providers.

At the beginning of 2011, the Hamburg senate released “Schlossinsel” (Harburg Palace Island) and the buildings at the top of the port from the sovereignty of the Hamburg Port Authority. The new urban area will be developed step by step. A new pedestrian swing bridge will recreate the historic connection from the inner city via “Schlossstraße” to the Harburg Palace Island. The redesigned canal square ( “Kanalplatz”), the new pilot office and the refurbished quay walls on both sides of the pilot canal only account for a small part of public investments.

All in all, about 43.4 million euros of infrastructural funds by the City of Hamburg including 5 million euros of urban development funds are spent for the new urban area. About 39.4 million euros are provided for investments to the infrastructure, i.a. for bridges, wharfages, streets, squares, another 4 million euros for land acquisition, expert opinions and immediate measures.

The department for economic affairs, building and the environment is responsible for the urban development-related and technical coordination of the development measures in the Harburg inland port. Investors, project developers, building owners, citizens, associations, businesswomen and men and relevant authorities are involved in the development within a so-called “Harburg inland port advisory group”. The inland port furthermore forms the southern part of the area of the International Building Exhibition (IBA) Hamburg GmbH. Current IBA projects include the housing projects at “Kaufhauskanal” and on the “Schlossinsel” as well as the newly established “Park auf der Schlossinsel” (park on Palace Island) as a central park for citizens. The remains of the former Harburg palace can be found in the middle of the park. The IBA Hamburg GmbH thus supports the port area being supplemented by lively residential areas with green and open spaces, catering amenities, retail and leisure uses. The new mixture within the commercial and historic port environment as well as the commitment of the various parties involved have changed the public perception of the inland port and resulted in an own image beyond the borders of Harburg.

Project chronology

1990Microelectronic application centre MAZ, today: TuTech Innovation GmbH, founded
1990-93Included in the ExWoSt research field “Urban Development and the Economy”
1992Urban design outline plan (1st stage), economic potential analysis, start of real estate development
1993Preservation Statute (Federal Building Code Art. 172)
1995Outline plan (2nd stage)
1998“Channel 1” building constructed
1999“Channel 1” building altered
2000Private association “channel harburg e. V.” founded to represent the interests of local firms
2002"Channel Towers" inaugurated
2003“Quay Warehouse Harburg” altered and partly extended by offices and catering amenities
2004Quay warehouse at “Veritaskai 1” and silo at “Schellerdamm 16 partly altered into an office building with catering amenities
2005channel hamburg seat of strategical Airbus suppliers
2006Harburg Palace Island function plan
2006Channels 9-11 built and occupied, 8 channel buildings taken over by IVG Immobilien AG
2007Palace Islands becomes IBA project; storehouse at “Schellerdamm” partly altered, silo and storehouse sold to Pramerica
2011Harburg Palace Island released from the sovereignty of the port development act
2011Legally binding land-use plan “Harburg 67/Heimfeld 46”, covering large parts of the inland port, taking effect


Visualisierung von Neubauten am Kaufhauskanal im Harburger BinnenhafenSource: BIG Bjarke Ingels Group

  • to preserve historic industrial architecture
  • to integrate water as a design element
  • to create an urban design link to Harburg town centre and the station
  • to revitalise wasteland
  • to realise a functional mixture of a new type
  • to realise a functional mixture of buildings designed for housing, research and professional qualification, services and offices, work and leisure activities

Types of measures

Blick in den Harburger Binnenhafen mit Silos und Neubebauung Source: Monika Uhlmann, Bezirksamt Harburg

  • Economic potential analysis
  • Urban design expert opinion and competition
  • Urban design outline plan
  • Preservation Statute (Federal Building Code Art. 172)
  • Legally binding land-use plans
  • Interdepartmental study commissions
  • Workshops
  • Preservation and reconstruction of historic buildings
  • Conversion and commercial use of vacant industrial buildings
  • Supplementary new construction
  • Business relocation and establishment of new firms


Harburger Hafen bei NachtSource: channel hamburg e.v.

The consistent, internally coordinated strategy pursued by the City Council of revitalising urban wastelands has proven its viability over a long period of time and demonstrably contributed to preventing “building activities on green land”.

The project is characterised by extensive and innovative cooperation procedures in the planning and realization phase. The envisaged aim of creating a lively urban neighbourhood featuring a new mixture of housing, research and professional qualification, service and office uses, work and leisure activities is increasingly becoming a reality.


  • Harburger Binnenhafen – Baumaßnahmen und Wegeverbindungen (Harburg inland port - building measures and links), November 2011, download of PDF, 3,5MB (in German)
  • Denkmalwelt | Harburger Binnenhafen (Harburg inland port | a world of historic buildings), ed.: IBA Hamburg GmbH 2009, download of PDF, 4,8MB (in German)
  • Hamburg: Architektur der sich wandelnden Stadt“ (Hamburg: architecture of a changing city), ed.: Hamburg City Council, department for urban development and the environment in cooperation with department for cultural affairs, sports and media, 2010
  • Der Hafen Harburg. Schifffahrt, Handel und Hafenleute an der Süderelbe (Harburg inland port. Shipping, commerce and port people on the River Süderelbe), ed.: K. Heinrich Altstaedt/ Rainer Maria Weiss/ Helms Museum 2011
  • BBR (client), FIRU GmbH (contractor): Querauswertung von ExWoSt-Modellvorhaben zum Flächenrecycling, 2004 (Lateral Evaluation of the EXHUD Model Projects for Area Recycling, 2004) (unpublished report)
  • Arbeitsgruppe für Regionalplanung, Endbericht zum Forschungsfeld Städtebau und Wirtschaft, Themenfeld Stadterneuerung in Gewerbegebieten (Study group for Regional Planning, Final Report on the Research Field “Urban Development and the Economy”, Subject Area “Urban Restructuring in Industrial Areas), Berlin 1993

Further information


  • 2002 "Metropole Hamburg - Wachsende Stadt" (The metropolis of Hamburg - a growing city)
  • 2002 DIFA Award "Quartiere im städtischen Kontext" (Neighbourhoods in an urban context) (final round)
  • 2004 awarded as "Modell-Projekt" (model project) - Metropolregion Hamburg (Hamburg metropolitan region)
  • 2004-07 EU project VISP Vitalisierung von Stadtzentren (Vitalizing City Centres through Integrated Spatial Planning)
  • 2005 Best practice - publication of Federal Environment Agency: "Die Zukunft liegt auf Brachflächen" (Wastelands are the future)
  • 2006 winner within the international DIFA Award "Lebensqualität in Quartieren" (Quality of life in neighbourhoods) (final round)

Poject site on Google-Maps: Hamburg-Harburg "Binnenhafen"

The projekt site ist to be found at postal code: 21079 - town: Hamburg - street: Harburger Schloßstraße 36.

Last update: 27.09.2017

Additional Information


Record inserted on 01.06.2005 by the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development (BBSR) within the Federal Office for Building and Regional Planning (BBR).

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