Page 1

Plexus City/the cultural platform


noun, plural plexuses, plexus

a network, as of nerves or blood vessels. any complex structure containing an intricate network of parts:







Demolition & Phasing




Design Process


Cultural Network




Node 1 - Performance Platform


Node 2 - Culture Hub


Node 3 - South Bank


Policy Context




Cost Plan


Design Strategy








Hamburg, a city located in northern Germany 150 miles from the North Sea. Hamburg is made up of a network of canals and waterways from the river Elbe spanning over 755km2. The city is best known for its industrial power and has a well-deserved reputation as Germanys gateway to the world, connecting over 150 countries with trade. It is also Germanys second largest Hanseatic city with a population just over 1.8 million making it one of Germanys ‘free’ federal states.

Hamburg is one of Europe’s leading cities in regeneration creating more ‘city in the city.’ Hafen city and the 2024 Olympic bid are prime examples of this extending Hamburg’s urban fabric by 40%. Hamburg is also committed to a greener city by 2030. The main aim is to eliminate the need for cars creating a healthier and pleasant place to live. The city plans to introduce a green network spreading across the city, connecting many residential districts to Hamburg’s city centre. The proposal will exist after the completion of both major projects are completed in 2030.

Our Vision

“Plexus” defines the network of ‘green space’ from land to water, connecting the people of Hamburg back to the the river Elbe. Our master plan introduces a ‘green ribbon’ to the city of Hamburg connecting many segregated areas north and south of the river. The project takes influence from ‘New Yorks High Line’ split into three sectors, focusing upon recreation along the Elbe’s rich waterfront, that coincide with Hamburg’s greater master plan.


Connecting many of Hamburg’s cultural facilities stretching from Ballinstadt Emigration Museum to the south of the Elbe, to the museum mile located in Hamburg’s city centre. Our aim is to integrate a pedestrianised link making use of the rich waterfront connecting nodes, to form a medium between ecological and urban realms.


Hamburg is a city defined and divided by the River Elbe. Hamburg’s history plays testament to the waterways and canals that run through the city. The River Elbe has been a source of connectivity and large scale industrial development, which has slowly transformed Hamburg’s landscape and diverse water’s edge. Many of Hamburg’s industrial hardscapes now create unused ports and derelict waste land, as the industrial might has gradually been pushed south and west. Wilhelmsburg the Elbe’s river island, for years has been perceived as a problem socially and economically, this is due to the decline of old industries and the tendency to seasonal flooding, thus the area and residents are socially marginalised by greater Hamburg. In recent years the local government have funded many projects and developments to encourage residents from the north to “Leap over the Elbe” and to put southern Hamburg back on the map to unite the city.

“The River Elbe acts as an artery, a barrier and a threat” The diagnostic mainly shows the lack of connectivity between north and south Hamburg, showing Hamburg is segregated by land, water and residents. Many aspects focused upon include: transport, recreational space, proposed projects, waterways and connections across the Elbe. It can be suggested that southern Hamburg is largely ‘out of sight out of mind’, with many residents turning their backs on the river Elbe, only interested in the inner


Existing industrial infrastructure of Veddel


Node Connectivity North and South of the river Elbe




PLEXUS STRATEGY The master strategy proposes a phased scheme looking at Hamburg’s master plan and the diagnostics affecting the direct areas. The seven phases are to coincide with Hamburg’s expansion and development ‘city in the city’ over a period of 25 years. The strategy should be perceived as re connecting Hamburg, segregated districts and Hamburg’s residents back to the river Elbe. Hamburg’s greater master plan, aims to introduce more green space and a green city initiative by 2030.



Plans to move the industry sector south and west, allowing development along the water’s edge.




Demolish industrial units

Construct residential and culture hub. Regenerate green space


Demolition & phasing 10

Industrial buildings which has no environmental value will be demolished to be replaced through regenerating the urban form. An accumulated area of 48367 square metre will be demolished which takes up to 18 months to comply with safety environmental precautions and not damage the existing hardscape. A series of 3 phases follows, to construct the overall master plan in a manner to sustain financial flow.


Construct bridge link and network



Construct South Bank


PROPOSAL South Bank Area of potential for investment and social activity with retail, food outlets, museums and large riverfronts as points of interest with water sport activities such as canoeing, kayaking, rowing and wind surfing along the enclosed water edge.

Bridge Link The connection will be stretched with greenery and specified pedestrian and cycling routes with viewing areas and floating islands for boats to dock

Culture Hub An information centre for tourists and a space for local community projects and chaired meetings, this collection of spaces will a stop off point on the bridge link housing a cafĂŠ and viewing terrace. The Hub will be sat on the edge of the park with access to a golf ground, docks and other park-related recreational activities.

Performance Platform


A large floating platform on a quay for performances and an open cinema with layered steps parallel to it as seating with bars, restaurants and clubs walled along a peninsular, all laid to generate a creative atmosphere.




Les Berges, Paris

DESIGN PROCESS The Highline, New York


Site Analysis of the River Elbe and the connectivity of Hamburg


Concept idea of river crossing

Identifying the green spaces in Hamburg, part of the 2030 Green Initative

Culture Nodes

The Parallel Network New York

South Bank and the Elbe crossing

Planning the shapes and massing of areas

Performance Platform Peninsula DESIGN PROCESS

Active crossing on the Elbe

Social spaces for residents and tourist to gather





The south bank sector, an area that kick starts regeneration in the Wilhelmsburg region. This new infrastructure seeks to invite people from Hamburg city centre to the new commercial and cultural attraction. The promenade rewards exploration of ‘leaping over the Elbe’ and aims to promote multi cultural formation. Mixed purpose units aim to promote growth, and allow the local community to structure their city. Disused docks once industrious are now at the forefront of recreational activity, connecting the people of Hamburg back to the river Elbe.

Performance Platform

Culture Hub


Plexus is a flux of social cohesion, a place to meet, relax or simply pass through on your daily commute. The need to reinstate the community, moving away from fragmented islands by implementing hubs and spaces on the water. The Performance platform: a plaza like pontoon promoting public realm influenced by recreational use, allows active flow in and around the bars, clubs, restaurants and the open-air theatre. The idea of our scheme is to create an ideal for the once neglected fragment. The cultural hub should be perceived as an extension to the public realm, concentrating on the active use by both communities north and south of the river. The position of the node acts as a cantilever balancing our ‘green ribbon’ from the weighted northern half of the city. The hub can be used as an information centre and a resting point with a café and park.


18 NODE 1





Culture Hub




SOuth Bank


APPENDIX Policy Context Sustainability Cost Plan Design Strategy

POLICY CONTEXT Encouraging Cultural Growth

The “New Cultural Policy” of the 1970s and 1980s reflected the priorities put forward by the Council of Europe on issues related to cultural identity, cultural heritage, cultural diversity and participation in cultural life. Today, one of the main objectives of cultural policy in the Federal Republic of Germany is to make the arts and cultural events accessible to as many people as possible. [1] Our plexus proposal will be a government funded program, with the enhancement of connectivity and green space top of Hamburg’s priority. The commercial sector, i.e., retail, foot eateries, museums, bars and clubs will be the investment areas that will grow and expand over time.

The objectives of the new cultural policy in Germany largely reflect requirements and aims corresponding to the Council of Europe’s definition of “social cohesion”. In addition, they are of increasing importance with respect to equality of cultural opportunities, cultural diversity and intercultural dialogue. In recent years, there has also been acknowledgment in the cultural field that Germany is a country of immigration. Integrating the culture of immigrants into cultural policy and to take account of the cultural needs of people with migrant backgrounds. [2] By creating a vast cultural program of activities will see the cohesion of the public, able to socialise from all backgrounds. The extension of the cultural mile from Hamburg’s main centre will promote the route to the south, making the areas accessible to all, whether rich or poor and will see a diverse mix of people.

There are frequent discussions on whether objects of industrial spaces can be used in a meaningful and sustainable way by cultural projects because public funds are more and more insufficient to pay for their high maintenance costs. [3]


Much of the area of our proposal was once a thriving industrial space, now derelict and inefficient. We are going to retain the heritage of the site but create a vibrant, usable area for the space to be more meaningful. At present the local residents seem to be ‘all work, no play’ with no socialising spots. Shops, museums, attractions, restaurants, bars etc., will generate an income, whilst funding for live venue acoustic events and creative performances will see public expenditure being used in a more community spirited way.


Building a Strong, Competitive Economy

Set out a clear economic vision and strategy for the area which positively and proactively encourages sustainable economic growth. [4]

Following on from the completion of Hafencity and the 2024 Olympics, the boost in economy could fall unless regeneration around the two sites is pushed. Bringing Wilmhelmsburg’s connections to Hamburg’s main district will enhance the appeal of visiting and inhabiting the edge of the city.

Support existing business sectors, taking account of whether they are expanding or contracting and, where possible, identify and plan for new or emerging sectors likely to locate in their area. Plan positively for the location, promotion and expansion of clusters or networks. [5]

The South Bank will see a new commercial quarter of investment, with retail, local business units, food outlets, children’s attractions, museums, water sports etc all boosting the local economy. An increase in jobs will increase the population of the area with scope of further investment in the area around our proposal in the future.

Land allocations should be regularly reviewed. Where there is no reasonable prospect of a site being used for the allocated employment use, applications for alternative uses of land or buildings should be considered to support sustainable local communities. [6] The change in land use of the area from industrial to Commercial/Culture/Residential will see a natural growth in the area of Veddel & Bille. This will be supported by the two towns and help grow the proposed development significantly, whilst also attracting a new tourism sector. The extension of culture will see a boost in tourism, adding an 80% increase to this part of the city. Promoting healthy communities

Safe and accessible developments, containing clear and legible pedestrian routes, and high quality public space, which encourage the active and continual use of public areas. [7]

65% of transport expenditure to be spent on projects to benefit pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users. Our proposal will give priority to pedestrian and cyclists and create safe and secure layouts which minimise conflicts between cyclists/pedestrians and traffic, through the proposed ‘plexus’ of network and routes.


Balance of land use within area so people are encouraged to minimise journey lengths for employment, shopping, leisure. Public bodies and utilities to release redundant urban land and buildings; every council to have an empty property strategy; all contaminated land brought back into use by 2030. [8]


At present residents of the area have to travel to Hamburg’s city centre for employment, shopping and leisure. Out proposal will reduce the need significantly, allowing people to have walking distance to these types of amenities and services. The South Bank will see a large regeneration of industrial land, with the Performance Platform building on a redundant part of the water.

Access to high quality open spaces and opportunities for sport and recreation can make an important contribution to the health and well-being of communities. [9]

Our key goal is to create as much recreation and cultural activities in the area, making the south of Hamburg an attractive place for the well-being of residents and tourists. Water sports and usable green space will encourage outdoor activities and encourage biodiversity along the water edge.

POLICY CONTEXT Requiring Good Design

Good design is a key aspect of sustainable development, is indivisible from good planning, and should contribute positively to making places better for people. Will function well and add to the overall quality of the area, not just for the short term but over the lifetime of the development. [10]

The proposal will see a connective ideology, creating links from Wilhelmsburg to Hamburg’s city district. This will enhance the immediate site and also surrounding areas to create future investment areas to expand Hamburg’s city centre into the south.

Optimise the potential of the site to accommodate development, create and sustain an appropriate mix of uses (including incorporation of green and other public space as part of developments) and support local facilities and transport networks. Visually attractive design as a result of good architecture and appropriate landscaping. [11]

The fluid design of the connective water link will create a streamline approach, being carefully considered to add architectural flare to the area. The three nodes will build on this, all having different approaches but having common design threads throughout. The landscaping of the overall scheme takes high priority, building on existing green space and creating new areas of biodiversity. The performance platform will create a large open public space to hold events, a social area to congregate.

Planning policies and decisions should not attempt to impose architectural styles or particular tastes and they should not stifle innovation to conform to certain development forms or styles. It is, however it is useful to reinforce local distinctiveness. [12] As the area is highly industrial at present, we want to subtlety convey this in our scheme, but at the same time regenerating the area to a high standard. The main distinct feature is the retained crane on the performance platform, adding heritage value for the future.

Ensuring the Vitality of Town Centres

New Urbanism’s defining elements include a discernible centre to the neighbourhood (often a square or green); dwellings located within a five-minute walk to the centre; accessible playgrounds; tree-lined, that form a connected network and create an environment suitable for pedestrians and bicycles; buildings fronting the street to form “outdoor rooms.” [13]

Allocate a range of suitable sites to meet the scale and type of retail, leisure, commercial, tourism, cultural and community and residential development needed in town centres. [14]

We created three main areas of regeneration, the new South Bank, Culture Hub and Performance Platform. All three areas have different scales and programs to attract the public to visit. South Bank is a large expansive commercial area which over time will develop into a new community. With the support of Bille and Veddel this can exist solely to support the two towns. The Culture Hub is a small scale pavilion set in the new revamped park, encouraging a communal information point to this area of Hamburg. The performance platform will be atmospheric social space, for creative projects and public gathering.


We identified the structure of Bille and Veddel and knowing their central points from an early start of the project was key to finding areas of required attention. We found the network and hierarchy of space and placed our proposal on the second ring, as an expansion is key but still being close to the central node.



Environmental Challenge


Plexus is defined as a vessel that acts as a network, trying to connect the segregated areas. Our design approach for sustainability is by linking rich and productive land areas while focusing on the river through a pedestrianised green infrastructure with the ability to adapt through climate change. By analyzing the site, we listed the common issues and problems within the area and the greater Hamburg state, and found environmental, social and economic risk. The city has not sustained the waters capability as the river Elbe is seen to divert into two paths to form an island, Wilhelmsburg, which has been cut off from the city on the other side of the river.



The city has faced many issues regarding its natural environment, mainly climate change, and pollutions through carbon emission levels. Flood risk is a real threat in Hamburg and the government has issued credit to sustainable climate adaptability ideas to be proposed in the urban context. We have introduced floating pontoons to adapt to the change of the rivers tide levels to prevent flooding. The idea is to stray away from the carbon fill autobahn to improve the living environment of users to enjoy. Nature has a power to heal over time and our idea utilizes this to have a more sustainable impact for future use. The infrastructure that is designed can also adapt quickly to changing conditions and requirements which increases the resilience of the city. Water and Land Conservation Our idea focus on the river and its urban and ecological surroundings, while also conserving its naturalistic behaviour. Extra precautions to the threat the river might present with, are taken by planting trees and marshes along the river shores to act as a natural barrier. Any natural greenery will be kept and sustained.


Materials Low carbon-input materials used are specifically locally manufactured so it can be easily sustained to decrease maintenance cost. Polyethylene will be the chosen material used for the floating unit shell and recycled Styrofoam to be used as the core with concrete mass and wooden decking for the bridge platform.


Renewable Energy As fossil fuel energy will not be present in the scheme, all buildings are built with thermal mass materials to store heat, and to provide ‘inertia’ against temperature fluctuations to save energy consumption. Photovoltaics will be used throughout the site and at the park to provide it its own energy source for heating and lighting. Waste Storage and Recycling Waste from bars and restaurants will be used in a composting process to provide fertilization for the urban fabric. All other buildings within the site will be provided with sufficient waste storage where it meets its regulations.

Sustainability Social challenge The Hamburg government has taken huge environmental action plans to sustain their city which assesses different criteria to the similar issues. The action plan does not address the issue of social sustainability concerns with a comprehensive level which we think is important in our idea. The community is being segregated by the infrastructure and the river that runs through it. The surrounding area lacks social activity but an opportunity to enhance it already presents itself. The river, instead of being viewed as a barrier can also be viewed as a passage, by adapting it to its surrounding hardscape to form a new infrastructure. The idea is then to heal the water edge as a place of critical ecological importance for the city, and the people. Allocated pedestrian and cycle routes will be introduced to improve the social sustainability of the neighbourhoods and to inhabit a healthier communal lifestyle. Social points are introduced in three nodes to improve social activities and to establish areas to be more socially specific. Communities from around Hamburg could then be pulled towards the area for growth in density. Transit points are easily accessible both on land and water to sustain the population with relevance to the use of the area. Economic Challenge Hamburg is a port city by default and river routes for industrial ships will be rerouted to the southern part of the river, allowing opportunity for our idea to expand through the numerous phases of connectivity. Our scheme when zoomed in has three sectors, the Performance Platform, the Culture Hub and a South Bank all connected through a linear public space on both land and water. Environmental areas should be treated as an important economic and ecologic asset such as the existing Elbpark Entenwerder which can create new value to adjacent lands and create the area a more desirable place. Opportunities to allow shops and restaurants and other social hub can boost the areas economic value and social desirability to work, play, live and invest in. During of which the idea will be proposed, the Olympic area and extension of Hafencity will be completed which then would grow the area economically. The introduction of the whole idea will also reduce the

In addition to the 3 pillars of sustainability, we have decided to include our fourth which is to sustain the culture of the master strategy. Hamburg is a city rich with cultural activities around the city and we have found locations to link together to form a cultural network. The idea of a cultural network is a continuous passage from the city centre along a diversity of various cultural areas existing and proposed which leads to the water towards a new centralized cultural area. This will indefinitely attract tourism to the area, following the context of the new development of the Olympic and Hafencity. This will suggest a strong success on social and economic sustainability if the culture of the area is sustained.


Cultural Challenge





In conjunction with our precedents;

The Highline, New York, $150 million Thomas Heatherwick Garden Bridge, London ÂŁ175 million 11th Street Garden Bridge, Washington, $100 million 6th Borough, New York, $200 million


Our cost appraisal shows that the development cost is within the average of our precedents costing approximately ÂŁ119 million. With example to the New York Highline, the project has attracted more than 70,000 visitors from outside of the city. New York city officials have predicted that development of the highline will bring $4 billion of private investment and $900 million in revenues to the city in the next 30 years . Our proposal aims to bring private and local investment to the area, government funding and revenue made from each of the three nodes will help with the up keep and maintenance of Plexus.








Hamburg is a city of fragments, a city that is defined and dived by water, industrial power, and different social backgrounds. The water from the river Elbe acts as an artery; the gateway to the world, providing Hamburg with wealth and economic stability. The Elbe also confronts Hamburg physically and mentally with many other arising issues, from tidal surges, lack of space to the north and the massive influx within the population. In a sense the southern half of the city has been neglected due to its industrial past and the so-called ‘barrier’ the river Elbe. The area of neglect becomes apparent in our diagnostics; Wilhelmsburg a 35km2 river island providing 50,000 residents a network of community, most of whom are immigrants from over 100 different social backgrounds. The island has been perceived as a problem: economically deprived, socially fragmented, and environmentally scarred from industry and flooding. [15] With the concept of more ‘city within the city’, northern Hamburg is full and geographically constrained, leaving very little choice but to expand Hamburg to the south of the Elbe.

“The north-south divide: making the leap across the Elbe” “ To judge a city by its physical fabric alone is a mistake, this is not a genius of metropolis. Complexity comes from our interactions: we are constantly making connections, moving from place to place.” [16] It is this complexity and connection, which should be considered whilst designing within Hamburg’s divided city fabric. A strategic and phased approach should be considered, looking at all of the disconnected fragments new and old which can become one. Such nodes, the 2024 Olympics and Hafen city sit isolated, disconnected from Hamburg, neglecting their surrounding areas and competing with each other, on opposite sides of the River Elbe. Our view is to create a flow ‘leaping across the Elbe.’ We take example from Rome and Amsterdam, looking at the cities from above and taking precedent of the shape and flow. The major rivers and waterways are harmonious with the city and neither river act as a physical or mental barrier, allowing both cities to flow north to south, east to west. Our concept moves away from post-modern ideology in conjunction too, Rowe and Koetter’s model of Metropolis: a collage city; each fragment is seen to be competing with each other, solely concentrating on each fragments development. Our strategy introduces a network or green ribbon extending land onto water connecting many-segregated areas north and south of the Elbe. The idea is, is to create physical and mental connections breaking down existing barriers, bringing the fragmented city back together as one.


“Good public space is an imperative part of a good city, but in order to yield positive results cities must invest” [17]


“The development of cultural policy throughout Hamburg is to find a balance between public sector, recreation and cultural institutions.” 18] Hamburg’s greater master plan is heavily influenced for a much greener pedestrianized city by 2030. The city intends to reduce the influence of the car, promoting a healthier lifestyle and reducing the cities carbon footprint. Our scheme should be seem as a foundation and investment to the future of Hamburg and the Elbe’s rich water front. Introducing a green pedestrianized link back to the city centre, whilst connecting with the river Elbe and extending land to water, adding ‘city to the city.’

“One of the most transformational moves has been to demolish many of the harbour walls and reconnect people with the water” [19]

DESIGN STRATEGY Current examples of this can be seen from Hamburg’s IBM housing project, experimenting and developing a way to live with natural barriers and making a threat less of a problem. Taking precedence from New Yorks Highline ‘plexus’ aims to solve the issue of disconnection but to create a transition for the user, leaving one urban realm (the north) and arriving into another (the south). Zooming in, plexus is split into three sectors just like the highline, concentrating on recreation maximizing each area’s full potential. Plexus is an investment in the people, with the flexibility to change shape as Wilhelmsburg and the surrounding area develops. In relation to the surrounding area, the Olympic sight and Hafen city are in close proximity, a large residential area with very little services, public realm or connections back to the city. Our scheme should be seem as a push and pull factor, just as any other public infrastructure, the need to cross or just a place to sit and relax within a greater urban realm.

“See how people use it today; to look for its strength and to exploit and reinforce them” [20] Plexus is a flux of social cohesion, a place to meet, relax or simply pass through on your daily commute. The need to reinstate the community, moving away from fragmented islands by implementing hubs and spaces on the water. The Performance platform: a plaza like pontoon promoting public realm influenced by recreational use, allows active flow in and around the bars, clubs, restaurants and the open-air theatre. The idea of our scheme is to create an ideal for the once neglected fragment. The cultural hub should be perceived as an extension to the public realm, concentrating on the active use by both communities north and south of the river. The position of the node acts as a cantilever balancing our ‘green ribbon’ from the weighted northern half of the city. The hub can be used as an information centre and a resting point with a café and park. Relating back to Hamburg’s greater master plan, the city is in need of mixed use spaces due to Hamburg’s population increase with recent immigration, the need to cater for all cultures, without detracting from another.

Moving away for old ideology, Plexus aims to connect Hamburg back to the cities artery (the Elbe). Introducing a green ribbon stretching from Ballinstadt in the south to Hamburg’s museum mile in the city centre.

“A scheme within a scheme” Investment in our phased strategy will see an improvement in Hamburg’s moral socially and economically. Plexus aims to connect the urban fabric and form a strong bond between recreation biodiversity and ecology creating a ‘medium’ within the urban realm.


This can be related to the south bank sector, an area that kick starts regeneration in the Wilhelmsburg region. This new infrastructure seeks to invite people from Hamburg city centre to the new commercial and cultural attraction. The promenade rewards exploration of ‘leaping over the Elbe’ and aims to promote multi cultural formation. Mixed purpose units aim to promote growth, and allow the local community to structure their city. Disused docks once industrious are now at the forefront of recreational activity, connecting the people of Hamburg back to the river Elbe.


REferences Policy Context 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Design Strategy 15 16 Leo Hollis (2013). Cities are good for you, The genius of the metropolis. London: Bloomsbury Publishing. p24 17 18 19 20 William.H. Whyte, JR (1993). The Exploding Metropolis. California: University of California . p160

36 page 45 this will help us for the policy context 21 October page 33 onwards

Lauren O’Donnell Harrison Smith Syed Danial Anwar

Ham plexus city hs lod sa  
Ham plexus city hs lod sa