ZHA adds signature style to German flood defenses

Following severe flooding in 1960s Hamburg, Germany, that killed over 300 people, the city upgraded its flood defenses. However, recent simulations revealed that even higher flood barriers were required to protect against extreme high tides and storm surges. An architecture competition was launched to redevelop the site and high-profile firm Zaha Hadid Architects got the nod.

Though it doesn’t boast the eye-catching curves of Zaha Hadid Architects’ more ambitious works, the firm has nonetheless managed to put its stamp onto the Niederhafen River Promenade.

The 625-m (2,050-ft)-long walkway provides public space atop the newly-improved flood defenses and is enlivened by large light gray granite amphitheater-like staircases that are sculpted into the flood barrier, both facing the river and at points where streets from adjacent neighborhoods meet the structure.

Additionally, a three-story cantilevering restaurant offers diners choice views of the surrounding area and there are cycle lanes at street level.

The Niederhafen River Promenade’s cantilevering restaurant is three stories tall

Piet Niemann

“Hamburg’s Niederhafen flood protection barrier is in a prominent location that incorporates the city’s renowned riverside promenade – a major attraction for tourists and one of Hamburg’s most important public spaces,” says the firm. “Situated on top of the flood protection barrier, the promenade provides undisturbed views of the Elbe and the port. The linear structure is 8.6 m [28.2 ft] above sea level in its eastern section and 8.9 m [29 ft] above sea level in its western section to protect the city from maximum winter storm surges and extreme high tides.”

Zaha Hadid Architects has been rather busy as of late, completing its cuboid Opus in Dubai and nearing completion on One Thousand Museum in Miami. Additionally, the massive Beijing New Airport Terminal Building is due to open for business soon.

Source: Zaha Hadid Architects

Adam Williams

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