Dr Meier, the urban development project Überseeinsel is on everyone’s lips at the moment. Which area does it concern exactly?
The Überseeinsel is part of the larger Europahafen-Süd area, namely the former Kellogg’s plant. The entire Europahafen-Süd district is bordered by the Europahafen in the north and the Weser in the south. This is a 41-hectare peninsula – meaning it’s a really special location, surrounded by water on three sides. The US company Kellogg's was located on one 15-hectare sub-section for over 50 years, producing cornflakes among others; there are lots of sheds and industrial buildings. After the plant closed in November 2017, a new situation arose. A sustainable concept for the future was required. The pre-studies still had the working title “Europahafen Südseite” – today, we talk more fittingly about Europahafen-Süd and the Überseeinsel.
At the end of May, you and the City of Bremen – represented by Dr Joachim Lohse (Senator for the Environment, Construction and Traffic) – signed an urban development agreement to develop the Überseeinsel. This took place at a special joint meeting of the urban deputations for the environment, construction, traffic, urban development, energy and agriculture, as well as for the economy, labour and ports. Which contents and key points are set in the Agreement, which concrete plans and targets?
It’s all about a rough framework for the next few years. On the one hand, it describes the results of the urban development competition. As an investor, Europa-Immobilien GmbH also acknowledges the results of the pre-studies and says this is how we want to build. This relates to the type and extent of the buildings, for example, the height. The Agreement also regulates that kindergartens, one primary and one secondary school are desirable and areas have to be provided accordingly. Furthermore, the rough relationship of residential and working space to public use is outlined.
Where there any reservations when developing the Agreement or other barriers to be overcome?
There was a great coincidence of interests among the signatories. It really was a very pleasant negotiating process. Which is remarkable, because in business life agreements are normally fiercely negotiated, different interests and prices negotiated hard. That was not the case here due to the concurrent interests of the Senators for the Economy, Labour and Ports and the Senator for the Environment, Construction and Traffic.
To what extent is the master plan for the Überseestadt taken into account in the Agreement?
The master plan Überseestadt forms the basis, of course, but didn’t originally make any statements about the Überseeinsel. In this respect our agreement is an update, which, however, needs further specifics, of course. But both sides are aware of this. The next steps are a more specific framework plan and then qualified and detailed construction plans for various subsections.
Which architectural firms are those and how was the competition organised?
The aim of this competition wasn’t finding a single winner but a draft that several firms should take part in from the outset. Six firms were originally invited: two from Berlin and one each from Bremen, Copenhagen, Rotterdam and Vienna. We approached the matter really internationally, because the idea behind it was that it was essential that Danish and Dutch experience and ideas from urban port development also flowed in. Additional interesting aspects have come from innovative urban port firms from Austria and Germany. And last but not least, we badly wanted the local Bremen knowledge of regional architects. We choose three architectural firms to go into the matter in more detail: the group OMP from Bremen, COBE from Copenhagen and SMAQ from Berlin.
How do the ideas look in concrete terms?
The basic draft has been shaped by the Berlin firm SMAQ. Another focal point came into play from the Copenhagen draft. Because one core of the planning is retaining the Kellogg’s silo facility, which is important from an urban aesthetic point of view. We want to take the integration of the overall architecture on the Überseeinsel from the Danish draft – which fits well in this respect because the plans for the head piece in the Europahafen originate from COBE. It just makes sense that it all comes as one piece.