On 27 April 2001, the Licht-Kunst-Speicherstadt association was founded in Hamburg. At that time, the initiators already laid the important foundation stone for the impressive brick ensemble and today’s UNESCO World Heritage Site to be brought out of its “shadowy existence” and put in an artistic light every evening. Without this association, whose members operate exclusively with private-sector commitment, the Speicherstadt would still be dark and its massiveness would appear more threatening than inviting.

Hamburg’s historic Speicherstadt has become one of the Hanseatic city’s best-known sights and a major attraction for locals and tourists alike. For more than 20 years, the unique illumination has been particularly popular, which makes the red-brick warehouse and office buildings shine in a soft light in the evening hours. The pictures of the illuminated ensemble are the most published pictures of Hamburg worldwide.


Investments 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 Hamburger Hafen und Logistik AG (HHLA). The approximately 50 members as well as sponsors and partners created the conditions for the Speicherstadt to become a shining centre of attraction every evening. To this end, the association has invested more than 1 million euros in recent years, a sum generated solely from donations and sponsoring activities.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the “Licht-Kunst-Speicherstadt e.V.”, Dr. Carsten Brosda, Senator for Culture and Media, said: “The fact that the Speicherstadt World Heritage Site shines 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 is to become more and more 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 storage blocks and bridges between Oberhafen and Baumwall. At dusk, they transform a large part of the area into a glowing work of art until shortly after midnight. The Speicherstadt is exemplary in every respect. Their artistic illumination marked the breakthrough for contemporary lighting design in public spaces in Hamburg.

The illumination is particularly effective in the dark season. The soft, indirect light emphasises the historical character of the building ensemble and atmospherically sets the scene for 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.


Speicherstadt illumination shines climate-neutrally

Since its foundation, the association has constantly moved with the times. The non-profit organisation planned and acted sustainably from the very beginning when implementing the light art project: Right from the start, particularly energy-saving luminaires were used. Ten years later, the illumination has been successively converted to energy-efficient, low-maintenance and long-lasting LED luminaires. In 2019, in the spirit of progressive sustainability, the conversion to 100% green electricity followed, so that the light art project can now be considered largely climate-neutral.


Lighting of further buildings in preparation

But the Licht-Kunst-Speicherstadt association also has many plans for the future: The circle of supporters is to be broadened even more in order to create the basis for the completion of the entire project. The goal: by the 10th anniversary of the award of UNESCO World Heritage status in 2025, the buildings of Speicherstadt are to be illuminated according to the latest technical possibilities and those not yet equipped are to be supplemented. So far, about 75 per cent are illuminated, especially the façades 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 its 20th anniversary, the association has produced its own image film, which you can watch here.

The association Licht-Kunst-Speicherstadt e. V. was and is the driving force behind the realisation of the illuminated Speicherstadt. It was founded in September 2000 by committed companies and private individuals in a joint initiative with the Senate.

The illuminated Speicherstadt was financed by variable membership fees, monetary donations, bridge sponsorships and donations in kind.

The purpose of the association is the promotion of art and culture. It promotes the listed character of the Speicherstadt, making the public aware of it and making it accessible.

The Licht-Kunst-Speicherstadt e. V. association has its registered office in 20457 Hamburg, Bei St. Annen 1 and is entered in the Hamburg register of associations as a non-profit association.

The association meets regularly to promote the further expansion of the lighting project. The association’s work is coordinated by an all-volunteer board, and the technical coordination is thankfully supported to a large extent by HHLA.

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