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Niederhafen River Promenade win World Architecture Festival (WAF) Award 2021

Niederhafen River Promenade in Hamburg has been announced winner in the World Architecture Festival (WAF) Award 2021.

The World Architecture Festival is dedicated to celebrating, sharing and inspiring outstanding architecture, with the WAF Awards at the heart of the festival.

Awarded winner in the ‘Urban Context - Landscape’ category, the Niederhafen River Promenade in Hamburg is integral to the modernisation and reinforcement of the city’s flood protection system and transforms essential flood protection infrastructure into a popular public space.

In the aftermath of storm surge floods in February 1962 that caused 315 fatalities and destroyed the homes of 60,000 residents, between 1964 and 1968 Hamburg developed a barrier on the banks of the River Elbe at Niederhafen to protect the city against floods up to a height of 7.20m above sea level.

Modern hydrology and computer simulations have since forecast the city’s flooding characteristics with greater accuracy; calculating an increase in the barrier height was required to protect Hamburg from future winter storm surges and extreme high tides.

The new Niederhafen flood protection barrier incorporates the city’s riverside promenade providing panoramic views of the Elbe and its historic port, and reconnects its river promenade with the surrounding urban fabric; creating links with adjacent neighbourhoods.

Wide staircases resembling small amphitheatres are carved within the flood protection barrier at points where streets from the adjacent neighbourhoods meet the structure; giving passers-by at street level views of the people strolling along the promenade at the top of the barrier and views of the masts & superstructures of ships in the Elbe. Similar amphitheatres facing the river alternate with these city-facing stairs. Ramps also connect the river promenade with street level providing accessibility for all.

World Architecture Festival 2021 (WAF) Award winners

Photograph by Piet Niemann