Ideas competition decided

Team of Herzog & de Meuron and Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten awarded first prize

The urban and landscape design ideas process launched jointly by HafenCity Hamburg GmbH and the Hamburg Ministries for Urban Development and Housing, and Environment and Energy for the new Grasbrook district on the south bank of the River Elbe’s northern arm concluded April 3. Public participation in the closing phase and the final session of the judging panel were carried out virtually due to the coronavirus crisis. The prize-winning design by the team of Herzog & de Meuron and Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten will now determine the overall urban and landscape design appearance of the Grasbrook district.

The new Grasbrook district on the south bank of the River Elbe’s northern arm will see the creation of 3,000 homes, 16,000 jobs, generously proportioned green spaces and leisure areas, innovative use and mobility concepts and new connections to the neighboring Veddel area. The next steps are to draw up a detailed landscape design and development plan, allocate plots and plan the architecture of the individual buildings. The first building construction work could begin 2023.


Dr Dorothee Stapelfeldt, Senator for Urban Development and Housing:
“The decision of our jury creates a very good basis for the development of the new Grasbrook district. We have a robust design for future urban and landscape design development that has strong potential for the future. It facilitates diverse, high-quality living and has excellent open space qualities with the fantastic central park in the middle of the district and the striking green promenade along the Elbe. It is a milestone for Hamburg as a livable, green city by the water. The new district will offer affordable housing for all population groups, interesting and innovative jobs and lively and varied open spaces. In the next few years, a distinctive place will be created for the future residents of Grasbrook, for Veddel and the other neighboring districts and for the city as a whole. I would like to thank all members of the jury for their commitment throughout the process.”


Prof. Jürgen Bruns-Berentelg, CEO, HafenCity Hamburg GmbH:
“Through the design by Herzog & de Meuron and Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten, Grasbrook will become a new showcase district with a clear urban structure, a large public area with a spectacular roof construction and a park at its heart. It also opens up the possibility for innovations in sustainability for a climate-neutral district and for an innovation-driven user structure. With this design and the proposed bridge, the integration of Veddel should also be a success. The task now is to complete the preliminary planning by summer 2021 with renewed intensive public participation.”


Franz-Josef Höing, Chief Planning Officer, Ministry for Urban Development and Housing:
“Hamburg is getting a new large park on Kleiner Grasbrook while new interesting, unusual locations for living and working in the middle of the city will be created step by step on its flanks. In addition, a beautiful new bridge will connect the previously isolated Veddel area and the new district on Kleiner Grasbrook. With the award-winning design by the team of Herzog & den Meuron and Günter Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten, the city has received a convincing ‘spatial timetable’ that now makes the ‘leap across the Elbe’ concrete and vivid.”


Prof. Matthias Sauerbruch (Chairman of the Judging Panel):
“It was a very ambitious process that we managed to bring to a successful conclusion despite the coronavirus crisis. The development of the drafts since the interim presentation shows how strongly the dialog has guided and stimulated the authors. The proposal that won at the end was the one that absorbed the suggestions in an ingenious way. The team of Herzog & den Meuron and Vogt Landschaftsarchitekten have come up with a result that offers a simple, basic structure, but has enormous potential for development in all respects. They are proposing a new neighborhood that has emerged from Hamburg’s language of urban design and will continue to make local history in a most interesting way.”


Since the first meeting of the jury on December 3, 2019, three selected international planning teams, put together by the jury and each comprising one urban design firm and one landscape design firm, had added detail to their concepts for the new Grasbrook district.

In their second and final jury session on April 3, the panel of judges comprising representatives from various specialisms and politics and chaired by Prof. Matthias Sauerbruch (sauerbruchhutton) decided on the following awards.

  • 1st prize: Herzog & de Meuron Basel Ltd. (Basle) and VOGT Landschaftsarchitekten AG (Zurich)
  • 2nd prize: Mandaworks AB (Stockholm) and Karres en Brands RB (Hilversum)
  • 3rd prize: ADEPT ApS (Copenhagen) and Studio Vulkan Landschaftsarchitektur GmbH (Zurich)

The circumstances under which this one and a half-year intensive ideas process for Hamburg’s new Grasbrook district was concluded were unusual. The coronavirus pandemic demanded adjustments and innovative solutions. The planned public final presentation on the eve of the jury session was replaced with online participation lasting 12 hours. In order to stay as close as possible to the original format, each team was allowed to present a 20-minute video accompanied by plans. Around 200 comments from interested members of the public were received, evaluated overnight and fed into the jury session.

The day-long jury session on the following day was also largely conducted digitally in the form of a video conference. For jury members who were physically present, the 1,200 sqm hall in the Hamburg Cruise Center provided sufficient space for social distancing.


Public dialog – the participatory process

The entire Grasbrook competition, which began September 2019, was accompanied by an intensive participatory process combining public events and online opportunities that aroused an extraordinarily high degree of public interest. Neighbors from Veddel, Rothenburgsort, Wilhelmsburg and HafenCity as well as Hamburg’s wider urban society were invited to become actively involved in the process of generating ideas through Grasbrook workshops on different topics, through online participation and through outreach surveys. The results of the discussion process were documented and evaluated and fed into the brief for the “competitive dialog”.

Most recently, in January 2020, members of the public took up the opportunity of a day-long public workshop to offer personal suggestions and remarks to the competing design firms for the preparation of their final submissions. All in all, about 2,500 members of the public contributed their suggestions, concerns and ideas to the Grasbrook ideas process.

Following the conclusion of the Competitive Dialog, the next stages of planning will continue to be accompanied by a variety of opportunities for public participation and discussion. The results of the Competitive Dialog alongside the plans and models will be exhibited again publicly and explained in various discussion formats, provisionally in fall 2020. The formal public participation on the zoning plan process also gets under way in fall 2020.


Hamburg’s new Grasbrook district

The new Grasbrook district is situated opposite HafenCity, south of the Elbe, and will be the new neighborhood to the west of Veddel. The neighborhood is destined to be a lively area with a fine-grained mix and also has the potential to be a global model for sustainable projects and sets store by a low-carbon use of resources. There are plans to create approximately 3,000 rental apartments and condominiums (both for cooperative projects and joint building ventures), one third of which will be subsidized public housing. The social infrastructure will also be put in place, including an elementary school and child daycare, as well as new provision of local shopping, sports and cultural facilities. In addition, space for approximately 16,000 jobs will be created. With improved access to public transport, new cultural and local amenities and generously proportioned green spaces, Grasbrook should bring direct benefits to people in surrounding neighborhoods.


Innovative competition process: urban and landscape design on an equal footing

The goal of the now qualification process to determine the urban and landscape design character of the new Grasbrook district is to deliver high-quality functional development planning, with international participation, to govern later construction. It was decided to conduct the process as a Competitive Dialog, which allows for continuous adaptation by the awarding authority and the planning firms in dialog as well as extensive public participation. A particularly innovative element of the Competitive Dialog was that landscape design has not been reduced to “subsequent greening” but was an equal component addressed in the competition simultaneously with urban planning issues. The results of the comprehensive site analysis, the preceding public consultations and initial approaches to the strategic innovation topics were preliminary work feeding into the process. (For further background information see