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New neighborhoods in Hamburg, Germany resilient to flooding, carbon neutral

Smart Buildings

New neighborhoods in Hamburg, Germany resilient to flooding, carbon neutral

Mixed-use areas built on brownfields and derelict districts.


By Peter Fabris, Contributing Editor | November 30, 2015
New neighborhoods in Hamburg, Germany resilient to flooding, carbon neutral

Hamburg, Germany. Photo: Bastian Sander/Creative Commons.

The districts of HafenCity and Wilhelmsburg in Hamburg, Germany are undergoing a renaissance.

Formerly a rundown warehouse district and a dock area respectively, the two neighborhoods are being remade into modern, environmentally responsible mixed-use developments. Areas of the port city are prone to flooding, so construction is made to be resilient to water intrusion.

An innovative landscaping system was created where every building’s first floor is uninhabited. Offices and businesses are allowed on ground floors, but not homes. Buildings are equipped with metal doors that close during floods. Some streets are raised. The strategy is to give the water space to flow instead of trying to stop it with dikes.

The Wilhelmsburg development includes wind turbines and solar panels that provide electricity for 4,000 homes. HafenCity buildings feature rooftop PVs and one has a wind turbine.

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