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20 YEARS OF LIGHT ART

20 years ago, on 27 April 2001, the Licht-Kunst-Speicherstadt association was founded in Hamburg. The initiators thus laid the foundation for the impressive brick ensemble and Unesco World Heritage Site to be brought out of its “shadowy existence” and put in the “right light” every evening. Without the association and the private-sector commitment of its members, the Speicherstadt would not shine.

Hamburg’s historic Speicherstadt is one of the Hanseatic city’s best-known sights and a centre of attraction for locals and tourists alike. For 20 years now, the illumination has been particularly popular, illuminating the red-brick warehouse and office buildings in a soft light during the evening hours.

Investment of more than 1 million euros.

This was made possible by the Licht-Kunst-Speicherstadt association. It was founded in 2001 by companies and private individuals in a joint initiative with the Senate of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the Hamburg Port and Logistics AG(HHLA). The approximately 50 members as well as sponsors and partners created the conditions for the Speicherstadt to become a glowing eye-catcher every evening. To this end, the association has invested more than 1 million euros in recent years, generated solely from donations and sponsoring activities.

Dr. Carsten Brosda, Senator for Culture and Media: “The fact that the Speicherstadt World Heritage Site lights up for all of us cannot be taken for granted. With the founding of the Licht-Kunst-Speicherstadt association exactly 20 years ago, this extraordinary place was finally put in the right light. This is due not least to outstanding civic commitment. In the future, too, under the artistic direction of Michael Batz, our World Heritage Site will increasingly become art through light, freely accessible and even climate-neutral. A valuable symbol of Hamburg full of charm.”

Around 1,200 luminaires are now installed on the warehouse blocks and bridges between Oberhafen and Baumwall. At dusk, they transform a large part of the area into a luminous work of art until shortly after midnight, conceived by the well-known Hamburg light artist Michael Batz: “The Speicherstadt is exemplary in every respect. Its artistic illumination marked a breakthrough for contemporary lighting design in public spaces in Hamburg.

The City Hall, the Kunsthalle, the Schauspielhaus, many other projects have directly followed this language of light. A Hamburg success story that still continues after 20 years,” says Batz.

The illumination is particularly effective in the dark season. The soft, indirect light underlines the historical character of the building ensemble and atmospherically sets off the neo-Gothic façades with an interplay of light and shadow. Guided tours at blue hour through the streets and courtyards of the Speicherstadt as well as twilight cruises with launches across the canals are correspondingly popular.

Storage City Illumination Shines Climate-Neutral

Since its foundation, the association has always kept up with the times. The non-profit organisation has acted sustainably in the implementation of the light art project from the very beginning. “We started with particularly energy-saving luminaires. Ten years later, we converted the illumination to energy-efficient, low-maintenance and long-lasting LED lights. In 2019, we switched to green electricity,” says Dr. Roland Lappin, chairman of the Licht-Kunst-Speicherstadt association. As a result, the light art project is now operated in a completely climate-neutral manner, says Lappin, who is also Chief Financial Officer and Chief Real Estate Officer of HHLA. Thanks to HHLA‘s careful and sustainable neighbourhood management, the Speicherstadt has developed from what was once the world’s largest warehouse complex into a lively, inner-city quarter.

Lighting of more buildings in preparation

The Licht-Kunst-Speicherstadt association has many plans for the future. The circle of supporters is to be broadened even more in order to create the basis for further projects: By 2025, the 10th anniversary of the Unesco World Heritage status, more buildings in the Speicherstadt are to be illuminated. So far, a good 75 percent are illuminated, especially the facades on the canals and buildings facing the city. Now the warehouses facing HafenCity, which are still largely unlit, are to follow suit.

On the occasion of the anniversary, the association’s board of directors, under the leadership of Mr Batz, has produced an anniversary film. It can be downloaded here.

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