Flood protection walls Niederhafen

Stairway to h(e)aven

connecting people

Whoever experienced it never could forget it – the 1976 storm flood. The Elbe River rose to 6.45?m above sea level. Five decades later: melting polar ice caps, rising sea levels, ever stronger storms – and Hamburg is still an open gate to the world. Flood protection saves human lives. The quality of life must not be affected by the protective structures, particularly along the Hanseatic city’s most important promenade. A curved stairway creates a new connection to the pulsing heart, linking the river to the city. Elegant, timeless, effective.

paving the way

The complex geometry of the miles-long structure was executed under difficult conditions (high water levels, inner-city location, small area for construction). The existing river walls, which were either integrated in the new structures or demolished, now serve multiple purposes: as promenade, recreation area, event and commercial space, parking facility and – last but definitely not least – as flood protection.

creating construction culture

The new flood protection structure has become a popular attraction. The now wider areas providing access to the water allow a better distribution of the many tourists to various terraces. Large events such as the Hafengeburtstag festival are now easier to hold. The structure, which has been designed to allow for future extension, is not just a visual highlight due to its inviting geometry but also an example of sustainable construction. It will serve its purpose for many years to come without requiring any modifications. GRASSL found extraordinary solutions to realise the exceptional architectural vision of British–Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid.

Year of completion


Type of intervention


Contracting authority

Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg


The flood protection Niederhafen was reconstructed in the course of the construction program flood protection from the city of Hamburg. It is a completely new solid construction with a deep foundation and a promenade with a lower car park. Additional commercial facilities are planned on the car park level. Due to the design concept ramps and stairs will have a conical shape. The structure will be located on the area of the existing construction and extended by a front building. The existing construction has to be removed prior to the construction measure. The structure includes a reinforced concrete superstructure for the promenade deck and park deck and the flood protection wall. The foundation on a sheet pile wall anchored with micro bored piles and in-situ concrete piles underneath the park deck.



Construction material

Reinforced concrete, steel

Type of structure

Hydraulic structure


Zaha Hadid Architects, London

Services Grassl

Basic assessment, preliminary design, detailed design, planning for approval, construction planning, preparation of tendering, assistance for tendering, verification analysis, technical examination, consultant services for the client, feasibility studies

Latest news about the project

Niederhafen flood protection structure receives award

What an honour: the AIV (Architects’ and Engineers’ Association) is going to commend the Niederhafen flood protection barrier as the Structure of the Year 2019! ..

Elbpromenade receives international recognition

In February, an article on the Niederhafen flood protection structure was published in the Japanese journal …

Niederhafen flood protection structure receives award

What an honour: the AIV (Architects’ and Engineers’ Association) is going to commend the Niederhafen flood protection barrier …