area 126 | hamburg

The year of presentation of the IBA, the Internationale Bauaustellung or International Building Exhibition of Hamburg, begins on 23 March 2013. The themes of interest and the more than 60 projects of the IBA Hamburg will be presented to the public for 7 months, with different initiatives every day.

Situated right in the heart of Hamburg, the IBA Hamburg has since 2006 operated according to the motto “Building a City Anew” seen from all its different angles. The exhibition will therefore illustrate all that has been created on the Elbe islands in Hamburg in this period of time, and during this year.
More than ten years ago the Elbe islands have, with its 55,000 inhabitants, caught the attention of the general town plan of Hamburg. The process was thus initiated and culminated in an overall revision of the plans for Hamburg and in the so-called “Leap across the Elbe”.
As of that moment the islands of Wilhelmsburg and Veddel, situated in the heart of Hamburg, have represented the connecting link between HafenCity to the north and Harburg to the south. Hamburg had to develop precisely these areas in the centre of the city. And it was at the same time necessary to develop solutions modelled for the future of the European city of the 21st century.
To do so, IBA Hamburg GmbH was founded in 2006 with the motto “Building a City Anew”; it has developed projects and strategies pivoting on themes of urban development, which are today central topics in the international debate.
International Building Exhibition in Germany IBA Hamburg is, in this sense, part of the great tradition of urban architecture and the architectural culture of German international building exhibitions. First organized in Darmstadt in 1901, inspired by an orientation aimed at reformation which focused on issues of aesthetics and viability, these architecture exhibitions have been set in motion by the housing reform projects launched as part of the modernist movement in the Twenties and have, especially since World War II, then been used and boosted as a driving power of urban development.
As a result, the central issues and projects of the IBA have related directly to specific places, and their projects have aimed at their structural development. The first IBA to systematically launch this idea was the IBA Berlin 1984/87. The conception of the IBA Emscherpark, the IBA See and the IBA Stadtumbau come within this tradition. Places as Berlin-Kreuzberg, at that time the centre of attention due to squatters, or the devastated area along the river Emscher north of the Ruhr district, was wholly assured of attracting the adequate attention when they became the subjects of IBA projects.

The IBA site of Hamburg.
Seen from an IBA perspective, also the island of Wilhelmsburg is an “important place”. For more than five hundred years generations of farmers cultivating the marshes have wrestled the island from the currents of the Elbe and defended it from the tides of the North Sea. An archipelago originally formed of almost two dozens of flat islands, the area was closed by a circular embankment in the mid-19th century, becoming “Europe’s largest river island”. However, the efforts made have not succeeded in protecting it from all the floods, as witnessed by the disastrous one of 1962. The many victims of this catastrophe have not been forgotten, and nowhere in Hamburg is the awareness of the dangers associated with climatic changes greater than in Wilhelmsburg.

The three key themes of IBA Hamburg Cities and Climate Change – New Energies for the City
There was no need, with regard to this Elbe islands, to put the question of the “Cities and Climate Change – New Energies for the City” on the agenda, as it has already been there since the IV.IPCC-Report of February 2007. Considering the fact that 80% of all CO2 emissions is produced in cities and that the urbanization of the planet is at the same time proceeding inexorably, no exposition centring on building and urban development can fail to deal with the theme of the “climatic change and the protection of the climate”.
“Building a City Anew” also means to free new energies – and all this must take place from every point of view. On the basis of the strategic concept of a “Renewable Wilhelmsburg”, the foundations for a roadmap for a climatically neutral district that derives its energy from an economy based on recycling have been laid.
According to the “Energy Atlas”, by 2013 the homes, the commercial activities and the infrastructures serving businesses and services on the island will be completely autonomous in terms of electric energy, and by 2050 in terms of heating. Thanks to the projects that are by now complete, already in 2013 Wilhelmsburg will be the district in Hamburg – and perhaps in all German major cities – that is, by far, most attentive to climate. This is why IBA Hamburg is building with an eye to the environment and to exploiting local and renewable energy sources. For instance, where the former Georgswerder landfill was located, energy from windmills is “repowered”, that is to say, it is boosted with the aid of a photovoltaic plant. A former air-raid bunker, a monument from the time of World War II of which interior has been completely destroyed, has been renamed “Energy Bunker” thanks to the solar panels and an enormous water tank. In the future it may supply about 3,000 nearby apartments with clean energy.

With the IBA DOCK, the central building dedicated to exhibitions and offices, already as of 2010 IBA Hamburg has been able to present one of its first constructions that has been built in an innovative manner, capable of adapting to the changing level of the water in the Müggerburger Zollhafen port, which is exposed to the tides, but which is independent in terms of heating, supplied in a manner that is neutral in terms of CO2 production.

Kosmopolis – New Opportunities for the City.
Also the second of the key themes tackled by this IBA, “Kosmopolis – New Opportunities for the City” is aimed at a cumbersome problem for our city: the decreasing opportunities for social integration caused by growing socioeconomic segregation and the isolation of social groups and echelons. IBA Hamburg therefore focuses on urban strategies aimed at a greater inclusion of persons with different backgrounds, cultures and income levels.
Invoked for many years as a crucial point from a social perspective, Wilhelmsburg is today the stage of innovative projects in the fields of education, culture and life styles. With eight buildings dedicated to education and numerous initiatives, as the Elbe Islands Education Drive, the IBA aids the commitment of parents, teachers and the public administration. Education must become the keystone of an enhancement from which we will all benefit – those who live here already and those who will come to the new city.
“Enhance without driving away” and “Living means staying” are the two fundamental mottos of this IBA: in fact, one feared that when all had been said and done, only the citizens who moved to the area could afford the improvements that have been long planned, and the 1,200 new dwellings. In fact, with projects characterized by ample participation as those of the “Weltquartier” neighbourhood or the “Georgswerder” urban district, an area that has suffered from a bad reputation for a long time, IBA Hamburg creates a social strategy of preservation. Moreover, the IBA is aimed at the people who already live in Wilhelmsburg, also through infrastructures with a specific cultural orientation as the “Veringeck”, an institution dedicated to the living conditions and care for the aged, or the “Welt-Gewerbehof” for small and very small companies.

Metrozone – New Spaces for the City.
If the third and last key theme of IBA Hamburg is less cumbersome, it is only so from a conceptual viewpoint: “Metrozone – New Spaces for the City”. No other place is quite as varied in terms of neighbourhoods and landscapes, of architectural testimonials from the past and urban constructions retraceable to different periods, cultures and ethnic groups. These “Metrozones”, which cover an area of about 35 km2, are the true venues of the exhibition and the projects. At a time characterized by a revival of the city, the internal peripheries, the underestimated rests from early modernism, oversized infrastructures and industrial areas, cargo railway stations and abandoned public garbage dumps are, among others, true resources for a new urban expansion. It is here, and not in the well-maintained districts dating from the time the city was first founded, that the city of tomorrow will see the light of day. This is where we can – and must – rebuild the city. With about 20 projects launched under the aegis of “Metrozone”, IBA Hamburg intends to show how renovated districts in which life is worth living can be created in the neglected areas found in marginal areas inside the city.
With respect to this fundamental theme, the central IBA project is that of “Wilhelmsburg Mitte” or centre, the largest of the newly built areas and, at the same time, the “showcase” of IBA Hamburg. Here the Building Exhibition within the Building Exhibition represents one of the most important components, with its “model homes of the 21st century”, featuring innovative building solutions that are ambitious in terms of design but at the same time durable, adaptable and inexpensive. The new Mitte or centre of Wilhelmsburg borders on the future “park of a new kind” represented by the igs 2013 or international garden show hamburg 2013; together they represent the principal starting point for the future development of this part of the city.
One of the decisive measures towards the improvement of the Metrozone of Wilhelmsburg is the relocation of the Wilhelmsburger Reichstrasse (B4/B75), a four-lane urban street, one of the three largest thoroughfares crossing the Elbe islands. Only with this relocation will it be possible to assure that the large central areas on the island, vaunting green and aquatic spaces, provide an objective for a “Leap across the Elbe”.

The year of presentation 2013
After six years of preparations, on the 23rd of March the final presentation of IBA Hamburg commences. Organized within the context of a varied and fascinating program, with dozens of congresses and events, hundreds of guided visits and about 2500 shuttle service trips, the visitors of IBA may discover everything about the themes and projects of this International Building Exhibition. It will, specifically, be possible to visit the 60 construction projects organized by IBA Hamburg, which clearly demonstrate how the city ought to be rebuilt today if one wants to succeed in reorganizing the city of the 21st century in terms of energy, social structure and urban planning. This is why the new motto will, until 3 November 2013, always remain “Come to discover the IBA!” You will be welcome!


Uli Hellweg Managing Director IBA Hamburg GmbH. Born in 1948, qualified architectural engineer. Studied architecture and urban development at RWTH Aachen. 1980 freelance urban planner in Berlin.
1982 coordinator at the IBA Berlin GmbH 1984/87 for pilot projects. 1986 planning coordinator at S.T.E.R.N. GmbH for Moabit urban renewal in Berlin. 1992 head of Department of Planning and Building in the City of Kassel. 1996 managing director of Wasserstadt GmbH, Berlin. 2002 managing director of agora s.à.r.l., Luxembourg. Since 2006 managing director of the Internationale Bauausstellung (International Building Exhibition) IBA Hamburg GmbH.