This morning we took a tour of Hamburg and its redevelopment of the Harbour area. Hamburg is an interesting city because it is and always been an independent city state. Its merchants in the past were able to set their own tariffs. Today, the Hamburg state is able to drive a lot of its decision making in terms of development and in particular architecture.
Everyone knows that Chicago is a great architecture city. Hamburg is one as well. Hamburg is helped in this area by the fact that the State owns a lot of the land and that it reviews proposals based on the quality of design and program as opposed to the lowest bidder. So Hamburg is able to have amazing architecture, both classical and modern and often right next to each other.
A prime example of this is the development of the harbour area. Near the harbor is a section of town called Speicherstadt. It is the old warehouse area filled with coffee, tea, spice, and carpet merchants. It is an island and has exquisite brick architecture.
Next to the Speicherstadt is the new harbour development. Each building consists of mixed use commercial and residential. Each building is designed by a different architect who is chosen based on the vision of their project for the overall development. So Hamburg does not have to set aside quotas for low income housing, rather they achieve the same 10% balance by the selection of programs. Some of the programs include social coops.
More importantly, many of the designs while remaining modern, take on elements of the old Speicherstadt and maritime feel. They will have elements of brick, or use similar color schemes on the side facing the Spericherstadt. This gives the area an overall cohesion and since of interest.
This is especially in contrast to the development scheme that we say in Bratislava in which the building complexes could be in LA or London as well as Bratislava. This points to the different positions of Hamburg and Bratislava in the EU. Because of Hamburg's prosperity, it has stronger control of its planning activities and the design of the city. It can afford to have buildings developed by famous architects like Rem Koolhaus. As a new member of the EU who is racing to develop and modernize, Bratislava has to accept much development that does not seem to have great benefit for its people. At the retail center to be developed in Bratislava many of the jobs as managers would go to Czechs.