The boiler house: from power station to information centre
On Brooksfleet in front of the Kesselhaus, the Speicherstadt was not only the backdrop for selfies and contemplative panoramic moods, but for half a century it was officially the stage. From 1994 to 2018, Michael Batz had his Hamburg Everyman wrestling with the devil in the parking lot in front of the former power station in the play of the same name, Batz’s adaptation of Hoffmannsthal’s “Play on the Dying of the Rich Man”. In the meantime, however, the stage on the Fleet is no longer located in an exotic, deserted no man’s land behind the customs fence, but in the middle of a touristically developed district, on the threshold of HafenCity. The noise from cars, passers-by and residents reached a level that was incompatible with theatre and brought this Hamburg institution to an undeservedly sad end.
Those who come often enough and regularly enough can also observe the metamorphosis of Speicherstadt inside the Kesselhaus, which today houses HafenCity’s Information Center. There is a wooden model of the entire Hamburg city centre and the banks of the Elbe on a scale of 1:500. Sometimes it lags a little behind and still shows what has long since been discarded – such as the first design by Dutch star architect Rem Koolhaas for a science center on the banks of the Elbe, which was still exhibited there in all its daring when nobody took the project seriously any more. But sometimes it is ahead of its time, as the monstrous office tower on the Elbe bridges shows, which looks as if the model maker had made a mistake in scale; or in the case of the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall, which already stood here when committees of inquiry were still examining who was to blame for the construction delays.