Hamburg, Germany


2019 - 2020


50 ha


Two-round International Competition


2nd prize


HafenCity Hamburg GmbH


Patrick Verhoeven, Martin Arfalk,

Danny Bridson, Alessandro Macaluso,

Konstantin Miroshnychenko,

Katerina Vondrova, Francesca Savio, Andrei Deacu


Karres en Brands

The Open City

Bridging City and Port with a model 'City of the Future'

The Open City is the result of the two stage masterplanning competition in Hamburg, Germany. The competition was organised to receive proposals to reimagine Hamburg’s incredible Grasbrook site. Grasbrook sits on the threshold between City and Port, and is the perfect platform to experiment for model city’s of the future.

The dream of The Open City is to create the framework for an entirely new type of district, developed at the intersection of city and harbour, with contextual and authentic typologies of spaces and buildings that respond to the needs of Hamburg today and in the future.


Open Space as DNA 

In The Open City, public spaces form the organizing structure of the plan. The plan is not just physically connected to its surroundings, it is an extension of them in every way. The public spaces of the new district extend beyond surrounding infrastructures and barriers to connect to Veddel and the city beyond. They define a flexible yet compact framework that leaves maximum space for existing and new habitats and ecology while at the same time supporting city life and recreation. 


Hackable city 

The Open City is a hackable city. Our idea of the city is a flexible framework where spaces and buildings can be occupied in various ways. Buildings are designed using principles of flexible and modular open buildings. Public spaces are sketched as extensions of the indoor program (or vice versa) blurring the lines between architecture and public space and allowing for flexible use and interaction. This defines a dynamic city that stimulates “hacking” and allows spaces to be shaped by their users, from intimate discussions to small sporting events or lectures to large performances and events.


Open Active Plinths

Grasbrook is a mixed-use district integrating residential and office space with collective, cultural, industrial and productive facilities to achieve a synergetic balance. The scale and type of production ranges from large-scale vertical manufacturing buildings in the western area bordering the existing port, to flexible event, culture and commercial spaces at HHalle and collective and creative production spaces and studios in the residential area of the Moldauhafenquartier. Under each block in the district we take use of the underground space to create flexible basement structures serving the needs of bicycles, micro mobility units, vehicles, new urban logistics, and sustainable infrastructure.

A clear framework for the open city

By setting a clear urban framework built around high quality public spaces, the neighbourhood can evolve while still maintaining its robust structure.


Created through the creative preservation of the incredible dock roof, the HHalle is indoor and outdoor at the same time, green and hardscape, industrial yet humane, promenade, infrastructure, plaza and park in one. An iconic, and uniquely Grasbrook space!

A true city in the Harbour

We believe in heritage as the foundation of of any good urban plan. The Open City does not erase the rough and broken but celebrates it! Public spaces build on existing site conditions and enhance them.

New, but authentic

The plan is organised around clear, high quality public spaces that weave the new urban structure into the surrounding context. Building heights, mobility routes, built program and roof scapes are designed responding to their position in the area.

Open Next Nature 

The public spaces form an intricate ecosystem that deals with climate proofing, water storage, sustainability, microclimate and ecology while at the same time providing space for experimentation and innovation.

New ways to live

The buildings meet the public realm with dynamic plinth spaces that are inhabited according to their position and function in the plan. The plinth’s invite flexible typologies into the neighbourhood to broaden the demographic mix.


Bridging the scales

Across the site six typologies introduce commercial, productive and communal space to the area at different scales, from the industrial XL typologies, to the fine grained XS live / work space along the park.

Inviting in the neighbours

The Saalehafen sports park forms the eastern edge of the site, and is a generous public space addition that provides a mining ground for the new and existing residents.

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