Thursday, September 18, 2008

Hamburg Walkabout (7 September 2008)

I left H.'s house, turned right, passed by the U-Bahn station and decided to take a long, long walk. I missed just wandering around.

Walking down Osterstrasse, you can pass by the canals while the road widens with greens on each side and housing estates side by side with nicely settled 3-storey Northern Germany bricked houses and new developments.

Further south, I come close to Schlump, where the TV-tower is located. It sets the background to a massive, brown estate housing that seems to be standing proudly and at a big junction with a fading sun behind it. It flashes an idea in my mind: A photo collection of "Architectural Clichés"...

Concrete housing estate, and not-so-inviting skies behind.

Various colours of Hamburg and orange-bricks matching the oriental taste of this restaurant.

Street name reads "Collonaden" behind these colonades around Jungfernstieg. The grandiose of Hamburg Rathaus reach out to the expanding clouds.

Then, I decided to walk towards the HafenCity. This is currently Europe's biggest urban regeneration site. Billions of Euros have been invested in this inner-city island on the River Elbe, and architectural firms such as KCAP, Herzog & de Meuron, OMA have been designing the masterplan of and various buildings on the site. As a group of 4, we made a presentation on HafenCity last Spring at the LSE, and it was time I would go visit the site.

I figure "HafenCity" signs have been added to the traditional Hamburg road signs since my last visit.

Somehow, in my previous 5-6 visits to Hamburg, I never passed through Speicherstadt, this beautiful riverside area, that housed red-bricked massive storage facilities.

Some of these storage buildings are being renovated for the same use, while others are turning into office and residential blocks as seen in these pictures.

This massive development is Hamburg's 1st Public-Private-Partnership (PPP) investment. Red cranes fit the environment and can be seen all across the site, especially from this open, public-space.
Sunday strollers, fishermen make up the calm crowds around the HafenCity as a few tenants have moved into their new flats.

Children's playground overshadowed by construction, and cranes appearing once again at the HafenCity viewpoint. The further cranes are for the jewel of the crown, the Elbphilarmonie building that should look something like this, when completed:

Details on Elbphilarmonie and some curious people around the site.

Achievement of the day:
As I left HafenCity, I put back my music on. A guy leaning on railings by the waterfront said something towards me. I paused the music and looked at this very cross-eyed guy who was asking for directions to some bar/nightclub. I did not know about the place but when he said "it is near some Marco Polo-platz" I immediately recognised I was there a few minutes ago. Against his heavy German accent I was able to give directions:
"You have to go diagonally from here!"

"But how do I do that? Where do I turn right, where do I turn left?"

Against his anxiety and evergrowing German accent, I kept it cool to my surprise and managed with my German to tell him about a bridge nearby that he had to cross and then turn left from there until he saw people gathering at a plaza. I was proud of myself!

Boats parked at the river marina and Hamburg's elevated typology at the riverside...

Failure of the day:
I continued on the riverside through Baumwall into Landungsbrücken. The weather was getting better and there were countless tourists, young couples, old couples and families strolling by the Elbe. I took quite a lot of pictures and at one point came by an old accordion player with a sailor's hat. He had a nice background behind him with a huge sailing boat, for a nice photo. As I was preparing my camera, he noticed me and shouted at me to give him some change. I did not mind and was actually thinking of 'buying' his pose for my shot anyways. He had a beautiful smile in my interest and the potential capital gained from this interaction. I framed him at the left side of the picture with the partly cloudy Elbe background.

I went over to him and suddenly remembered I had spent all my change but 8 cents at the Bagel/Coffee shop earlier. The sudden change in his face from glory to misery really broke my heart. I was hopeless. I dropped the few copper coins as he looked carefully into my hands in sheer disappointment and I walked away in vein. I did not dare to look back as I was not expecting anymore hopeful sight in his eyes. He went on to play the same tune as I put my earphones back on.

I upset this smiling guy...

Approaching St. Pauli and its colourful scenes...

On my way back I had some more food for thought. Once more I realised: The author is a lonely man. It is the collection of lonelinesses that create the author's masterpiece, the book. But there is someone else, who is lonely in town. The author is as lonely as buildings. The author and buildings are the only ones that would dare to stand on their own against the crashing wind, as dark and static as they can be in the setting night. Buildings are lonely, therefore the architect is also lonely. The author and the architect have one major difference between them. The architect creates the loneliness, and the author narrates it. The building is designed to inhabit people in it, but is always created on a superficial reality in an enclaved and isolated dimension. The stories are written for people to read but are created at times of self-prophecy. The architect produces the loneliness, and the author reproduces it.

Ending a long walking day across the harbour at Övelgönne.

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