Floods have always been a threat in Hamburg, where a storm surge in 1962 killed 315 residents across the Hanseatic city.
The danger is now exacerbated by climate change, which is expected to cause the water level to rise by half a metre by 2100.
To keep the population safe, authorities are rebuilding the dyke at Landungsbrücken, which protects the city centre, to make it 1.4 metres higher.
But the brand-new HafenCity district – which includes the Elbphilharmonie concert hall – is built right by the river Elbe, but is not protected by dykes. Instead, developers are betting on an old idea: Build high.
The new district has been built on raised plinths, so that residents live at least 8.3 metres above sea level.
According to Jürgen Rux, senior project manager at HafenCity Hamburg GmBH, this method is highly advantageous, especially for aesthetic reasons: “There is no dyke or wall in front of the HafenCity. Instead people can enjoy a perfect view of the water.”
Video produced by Ole Krogsgaard
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