Hamburg - A City of Two Halves \

Blessed with sub tropical climes, dragging the H\B Hamburg contingent away from the city's numerous sun-drenched beach bars was no mean feat. We were lured eventually by the prospect of an outdoor tour around Europe's largest inner-city development project HafenCity.

Due for completion in 15 years time, the waterfront neighbourhood will see Hamburg City Centre enlarged by some 40%, home to 12,000 residents and some 40,000 more workers. A veritable smorgasbord of residential typologies, HafenCity boasts a who’s who of continental architects, with a few American imports, including Richard Meier & Partners.

The pinnacle of the development is Herzog & de Meuron’s shimmering financial black hole, the Elbphilharmonie, which presides at the Westernmost point, on the Elbe River. Rising to the spectacular height of 110m, the scaly glass structure perches atop the historic Kaispecher A warehouse. Soaring construction costs (€241 in 2007, €571 in 2012) enabled by a seemingly bottomless supply of cash was the butt of many a joke amongst native Hamburgers, but there is no doubt that the building will be a sight to behold upon completion in 2017 (fingers crossed).

Hamburg by night entailed explorations of the Reeperbahn, the city’s infamous red light district, and late-night dancing at disused WWII bunkers, enclosed by 3.5m-thick concrete walls. Once our throbbing industrial-techno heads had been soothed by nourishing Boost smoothies, we were able to reflect on Hamburg as a city of two halves; of preened hedgerows and hedonism, concrete cantilevers and craft beers.

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