The Elbphilharmonie is a concert hall in the HafenCity quarter of Hamburg, Germany, on the Grasbrook peninsula of the Elbe River. The new glassy construction resembles a hoisted sail, water wave or quartz crystal; it sits on top of an old warehouse building (Kaispeicher A, built 1963) near the historical Speicherstadt and is designed by architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron. It is the tallest inhabited building of Hamburg, with a final height of 108 metres (354 ft). The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg comprises two concert halls, a hotel, and the Plaza, which offers visitors an amazing view of the city. After the festive inauguration on January 11th and 12th, 2017, the impressive concert hall is now a defining feature of the Hamburg skyline.
A new Location in the City – The City in a new Place:
The Elbphilharmonie on the Kaispeicher A marks a location that most people in Hamburg know about but have never really experienced. In future it will become a new centre of social and cultural life for the people of Hamburg as well as visitors from all over the world.
The Kaispeicher A, designed by Werner Kallmorgen and constructed between 1963 and 1966, was originally used as a warehouse for cocoa beans until the end of the last century. The new building has been extruded from the shape of the Kaispeicher A and is perfectly congruent with the brick block of the older building on top of which it has been placed. The top and bottom of the new structure are, however, entirely different from the plain, blunt shape of the warehouse below. The broad, undulating sweep of the roof rises to a total height of 110 m at the Kaispitze (the tip of the peninsula), sloping down to the eastern end, where the roof is some 30 m lower. Correspondingly the bottom of the new superstructure has an expressive dynamic. Specific areas are defined by either wide, shallow or steep vaults.
In contrast to the stoic brick facade of the Kaispeicher A, the new building above has a glass facade, consisting in part of curved panels, some of them cut open. The glass facade transforms the new building into a gigantic, iridescent crystal whose textured appearance changes as it catches the reflections of the sky, the water and the city and transforms them into an intricate puzzle on its facade.
The main entrance to the building, where the box office is located, lies to the east. The elongated escalator curves slightly as it leads to the top of the Kaispeicher A, so that it cannot be seen in full from one end to the other. The escalator offers its users a surprising spatial experience through the entire Kaispeicher A. The first escalator leads up to a large panoramic window, the second escalator ends at the Plaza.
Upon reaching the top of the Kaispeicher A, visitors find an open space, a public Plaza above the city. Between the top of the Kaispeicher A and beneath the new building – at the joint between old and new – is a new public space that offers unique panoramic views. Along its edges, vault-shaped openings create spectacular, theatrical views of both the River Elbe and the City of Hamburg. Further inside, a deep vertical opening creates constant spectacular glimpses of the foyer areas of the Grand Hall above. A café and the hotel lobby are located here, as well as access to the foyers of the new concert halls.
The design for the new Elbphilharmonie is a project of the 21st century that would have been inconceivable before. The principle design idea of the Grand Hall as a space where orchestra and conductor are located in the centre of the audience, is a well-known typology. It is also not uncommon that the architecture is composed of an arrangement of tiers that take their cue from the logic of the acoustic and visual perception. But here this logic leads to another conclusion. The tiers are more pervasive; tiers, walls, and ceiling form a spatial unity. This space, rising vertically almost like a tent, is not determined by the architecture alone but by the 2.100 listeners and musicians who gather in order to make and listen to music. The towering shape of the hall defines the static structure of the entire building and is correspondingly reflected in the silhouette of the building as a whole. The Elbphilharmonie is a landmark visible from afar, lending an entirely new accent to the horizontally conceived city of Hamburg.
Herzog & de Meuron:
The Elbphilharmonie on the Kaispeicher marks a location that most people in Hamburg know about but have never really noticed. It is now set to become a new centre of social, cultural and daily life for the people of Hamburg and for visitors from all over the world.
Too often a new cultural centre appears to cater to the privileged few. In order to make the new Philharmonic a genuinely public attraction, it is imperative to provide not only attractive architecture but also an attractive mix of urban uses. The building complex accommodates a philharmonic hall, a chamber music hall, restaurants, bars, a panorama terrace with views of Hamburg and the harbour, apartments, a hotel and parking facilities. These varied uses are combined in one building as they are in a city. And like a city, the two contradictory and superimposed architectures of the Kaispeicher and the Philharmonic ensure exciting, varied spatial sequences: on the one hand, the original and archaic feel of the Kaispeicher marked by its relationship to the harbour; on the other, the sumptuous, elegant world of the Philharmonic. In between, there is an expansive topography of public and private spaces, all differing in character and scale: the large terrace of the Kaispeicher, extending like a new public plaza, responds to the inwardly oriented world of the Philharmonic built above it.
The heart of the complex is the Elbphilharmonie itself. A space has emerged that foregrounds music listeners and music makers to such an extent that, together, they actually represent the architecture. The philharmonic building typology has undergone architectural reformulation that is exceptionally radical in its unprecedented emphasis on the proximity between artist and audience – almost like a football stadium.
Urban Architecture for Lovers of Culture:
The new philharmonic is not just a site for music; it is a full-fledged residential and cultural complex. The concert hall, seating 2100, and the chamber music hall for 550 listeners are embedded in between luxury flats and a five-star hotel with built-in services such as restaurants, a health and fitness centre, conference facilities. Long a mute monument of the post-war era that occasionally hosted fringe events, the Kaispeicher A has now been transformed into a vibrant, international centre for music lovers, a magnet for both tourists and the business world. The Elbphilharmonie will become a landmark of the city of Hamburg and a beacon for all of Germany. It will vitalize the neighbourhood of the burgeoning HafenCity, ensuring that it is not merely a satellite of the venerable Hanseatic city but a new urban district in its own right.
The Archaic Kaispeicher:
The Kaispeicher A, designed by Werner Kallmorgen, was constructed between 1963 and 1966 and used as a warehouse until close to the end of the last century. Originally built to bear the weight of thousands of heavy bags of cocoa beans, it now lends its solid construction to supporting the new Philharmonic. The structural potential and strength of the old building has been enlisted to bear the weight of the new mass resting on top of it.
Our interest in the warehouse lies not only in its unexploited structural potential but also in its architecture. The robust, almost aloof building provides a surprisingly ideal foundation for the new philharmonic hall. It seems to be part of the landscape and is not yet really part of the city, which has now finally pushed forward to this location. The harbour warehouses of the 19th century were designed to echo the vocabulary of the city’s historical façades: their windows, foundations, gables and various decorative elements are all in keeping with the architectural style of the time. Seen from the River Elbe, they were meant to blend in with the city’s skyline despite the fact that they were uninhabited storehouses that neither required nor invited the presence of light, air and sun.
But not the Kaispeicher A: it is a heavy, massive brick building like many other warehouses in the Hamburg harbour, but its archaic façades are abstract and aloof. The building’s regular grid of holes measuring 50 x 75 cm cannot be called windows; they are more structure than opening.
The New Glass Building:
The new building has been extruded from the shape of the Kaispeicher; it is identical in ground plan with the brick block of the older building, above which it rises. However, at the top and bottom, the new structure takes a different tack from the quiet, plain shape of the warehouse below: the undulating sweep of the roof rises from the lower eastern end to its full height of 108 metres at the Kaispitze (the tip of the peninsula). The Elbphilharmonie is a landmark visible from afar, lending an entirely new vertical accent to the horizontal layout that characterises the city of Hamburg. There is a greater sense of space here in this new urban location, generated by the expanse of the water and the industrial scale of the seagoing vessels.
The glass façade, consisting in part of curved panels, some of them carved open, transforms the new building, perched on top of the old one, into a gigantic, iridescent crystal, whose appearance keeps changing as it catches the reflections of the sky, the water and the city.
The bottom of the superstructure also has an expressive dynamic. Along its edges, the sky can be seen from the Plaza through vault-shaped openings, creating spectacular, theatrical views of both the River Elbe and downtown Hamburg. Further inside, deep vertical openings provide ever-changing visual relations between the Plaza and the foyers on different levels.
Entrance and Plaza:
The main entrance to the Kaispeicher complex lies to the east. An exceptionally long escalator leads up to the Plaza; it describes a slight curve so that it cannot be seen in full from one end to the other. It is a spatial experience in itself; it cuts straight through the entire Kaispeicher, passing a large panorama window with a balcony that affords a view of the harbour before continuing on up to the Plaza. The latter, sitting on top of the Kaispeicher and under the new building, is like a gigantic hinge between old and new. It is a new public space that offers a unique panorama. Restaurants, bars, ticket office and hotel lobby are located here, as well as access to the foyers of the new philharmonic.
What kind of a space will the philharmonic be? What acoustic and architectural concerns have gone into its construction? What tradition resonates in this hall in comparison to other new locations, say, in Tokyo and Los Angeles or the ur-model in Berlin. It soon became clear that the Hamburg Philharmonic would be different from that ur-model, the Scharoun Philharmonic. The premises alone – the radical givens of the location, namely the harbour and the existing warehouse – invite change. This is a project of the 21st century that would have been inconceivable before. What has been retained is the fundamental idea of the Philharmonic as a space where orchestra and conductor are located in the midst of the audience, as it were: here the architecture and the arrangement of the tiers take their cue from the logic of the acoustic and visual perception of music, performers and audience. But that logic leads to another conclusion. The tiers are more pervasive; tiers, walls and ceiling form a spatial unity. The people, that is the combination of audience and musicians, determine the space; the space seems to consist only of people. In this respect, it resembles the typology of the football stadium that we have developed in recent years, with the goal of allowing an almost interactive proximity between audience and players. We also studied archaic forms of theatre, like Shakespeare’s Globe, with a view to exploiting the vertical dimension. The complex geometry of the hall unites organic flow with incisive, near static shape. Walking, standing, sitting, seeing, being seen, listening… all the activities and needs of people in a concert hall are explicitly expressed in the architecture of the space. This space, rising vertically almost like a tent, offers room for 2100 people to congregate for the enjoyment of making and listening to music. The towering shape of the hall defines the static structure of the entire volume of the building and is correspondingly echoed in the silhouette of the building as a whole.
Project name: Elbphilharmonie Hamburg
Location: Platz der Deutschen Einheit 1, 20457 Hamburg, Germany
Coordinates: 53.541364, 9.984275
Type: Mixed Use, Dance / Music Center
Site area: 113,452 sq.ft / 10,540 sqm
Gross Floor Area (GFA): 113,452 sq.ft / 10,540 sqm
- Number of Levels: 29
- Footprint: 61,839 sq.ft / 5,745 sqm
- Length: 413 ft / 126 m
- Width: 279 ft / 85 m
- Height: 361 ft / 110 m
- Gross Volume (GV): 475’872 m³
- Parking: 520 Units
Main Concert Hall:
- 2,100 seats
- Floor area (incl. stage): approx. 2`590 sqm / 27`879 sq.ft
- Volume: approx. 23`000 m³ / 812`245 cubic ft
- Length: approx. 50 m / 164 ft
- Width: approx. 40 m / 131 ft
- Height: approx. 25 m / 82 ft
- Number of spring elements: approx. 362
- Floor area: approx. 270 sqm / 2`906 sq.ft
- Width: max. 21.3 m / 70 ft
- Depth: max. 15.5 m / 51 ft
- Height above stage: 15 m / 49 ft
- Diameter: 15 m / 49 ft
Chamber Music Hall:
- approx. 550 seats (chamber music)
- Floor area: approx. 440 sqm / 4`736 sq.ft
- Length: approx. 30 m / 98 ft
- Width: approx. 14.6 m / 48 ft
- Height: approx. 10 m / 33 ft
- Stage Floor Area: 172 sqm / 1`851 sq.ft
- Number of spring elements: 56
- approx. 150 seats
- Floor area: approx. 174 sqm / 1`886 sq.ft
- Concept Design: 04/2003
- Schematic Design: 10/2004 – 04/2005
- Design Development: 10/2005 – 06/2006
- Construction Documents: 06/2006 – 07/2014
- Construction Services: 04/2007 – 10/2016
Completion Year: 2016
Visit Elbphilharmonie Hamburg’s Website: here
Client: Freie und Hansestadt Hamburg, Germany
- Elbphilharmonie Hamburg Bau GmbH & Co. KG – represented by ReGe Hamburg Projekt Realisierungsgesellschaft mbH, Hamburg, Germany
- Herzog & de Meuron – St. Johanns-Vorstadt 98 4056 Basel, Switzerland
- Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron, Ascan Mergenthaler (Partner in Charge), David Koch (Partner in Charge Project Management)
- Jan-Christoph Lindert (Associate, Project Director), Nicholas Lyons (Associate, Project Architect), Stefan Goeddertz (Associate, Project Architect), Christian Riemenschneider (Associate, Project Manager), Henning Severmann (Project Manager), Stephan Wedrich (Associate, Project Director until 2012), Carsten Happel (Associate, Project Manager)
- Birgit Föllmer (Project Manager Main Concert Hall), Kai Zang (Project Manager Detailing New Building and Small Hall), Peter Scherz (Project Manager Granary, Kaistudio), Jan Per Grosch (Project Manager Envelope)
- Christiane Anding, Thomas Arnhardt, Petra Arnold, Christian Baumgarten, Tobias Becker, Johannes Beinhauer, Uta Beissert, Lina Mareike Belling, Andreas Benischke, Inga Benkendorf, Christine Binswanger (Partner), Johannes Bregel, Francesco Brenta, Jehann Brunk, Julia Katrin Buse, Ignacio Cabezas, Jean-Claude Cadalbert, Maria Christou, Sergio Cobos Álvarez, Massimo Corradi (Digital Technologies), Guillaume Delemazure, Annika Delorette, Fabian Dieterle, Annette Donat, Philipp Doukakis, Patrick Ehrhardt, Carmen Eichenberger, Stephanie Eickelmann, Magdalena Agata Falska, Daniel Fernández, Stephan Flore, Hans Focketyn, Bernhard Forthaus, Andreas Fries, Asko Fromm, Florian Gast, Catherine Gay Menzel, Marco Gelsomini, Ulrich Grenz, Jana Grundmann, Hendrik Gruss, Luis Guzmán Grossberger, Christian Hahn, Yvonne Hahn, Naghmeh Hajibeik, David Hammer, Michael Hansmeyer, Nikolai Happ, Bernd Heidlindemann, Anne-Kathrin Hellermann, Magdalena Hellmann, Lars Höffgen, Philip Hogrebe, Ulrike Horn, Robert Hösl (Partner) , Michael Iking, Ina Jansen, Nils Jarre, Damun Jawanrudi, Jürgen Johner (Associate), Leweni Kalentzi, Julia Kniess, Andreas Kimmel, Anja Klein, Frank Klimek, Alexander Kolbinger, Benjamin Koren, Tomas Kraus, Jonas Kreis, Nicole Lambrich, Jana Lasorik, Matthias Lehmann, Monika Lietz, Julian Löffler, Philipp Loeper, Thomas Lorenz, Christina Loweg, Florian Loweg, Xiaojing Lu, Femke Lübcke, Tim Lüdtke, Lilian Lyons, Jan Maasjosthusmann, Janos Magyar, Klaus Marten, Petrina Meier, Götz Menzel, Alexander Meyer, Simone Meyer, Henning Michelsen, Alexander Montero Herberth, Felix Morczinek, Jana Münsterteicher, Christiane Netz, Andreas Niessen, Monika Niggemeyer, Mònica Ors Romagosa, Argel Padilla Figueroa, Benedikt Pedde, Sebastian Pellatz, Malte Petersen, Jorge Manuel Picas de Carvalho, Philipp Poppe, Alrun Porkert, Yanbin Qian, Robin Quaas, Julian Raffetseder, Holger Rasch (Digital Technologies), Leila Reese, Chantal Reichenbach, Leonard Reichert, Thorge Reinke, Ina Riemann, Nina Rittmeier, Dimitra Riza, Miguel Rodríguez Martínez, Guido Roth, Christoph Röttinger, Patrick Sandner, Philipp Schaerer (Digital Technologies), Chasper Schmidlin, Alexandra Schmitz, Martin Schneider, Leo Schneidewind, Malte Schoemaker, Katharina Schommer, Helene Schüler, Katrin Schwarz, Gerrit Christopher Sell, Heeri Song, Nadine Stecklina, Markus Stern, Sebastian Stich, Sophie Stöbe, Stephanie Stratmann, Kai Strehlke (Digital Technologies), Ulf Sturm, Stefano Tagliacarne, Anke Thestorf, Henning Többen, Kerstin Treiber, Florian Tschacher, Chih-Bin Tseng, Jan Ulbricht, Inga van Husen, Florian Voigt, Jonathan Volk, Maximilian Vomhof, Constance von Rège, Christof Weber, Ruth Maria Weber, Catharina Weis, Philipp Wetzel, Douwe Wieërs, Julius Wienholt, Julia Wildfeuer, Boris Wolf, Patrick Yong, Xiang Zhou, Bettina Zimmermann, Marco Zürn
General Contractor : Adamanta Grundstücks-Vermietungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. Objekt Elbphilharmonie KG, Düsseldorf, Germany Represented by Hochtief Solutions AG, Essen, Germany
- Electrical Engineer: Hochtief Solutions AG, Germany
- Structural Engineer: Hochtief Solutions AG, Germany
- Structural Engineering Brick Facade: Jäger Ingenieure, Radebeul, Germany
- Geotechnical Engineer: Douglas Partners
- Traffic Engineering: Cardno
- Signage Consulting: Ruedi Baur, Zürich, Switzerland
- Sprinkler: Itega GmbH Ingenieurbüro für technische Gebäudeausrüstung, Hann. Münden, Germany – Hochtief Solutions AG, Germany
- Acoustics: Nagata Acoustics Inc.
- Building Physics: MF Dr. Flohrer Beratende Ingenieure GmbH, Berlin, Germany – Hochtief Solutions AG, Germany
- Vertical Transportation: Jappsen Ingenieure GmbH, Berlin, Germany
- Fire Protection, Site Supervision: Hahn Consult Ingenieurgesellschaft, Hamburg, Germany
- Crowd Flow: Happold Ingenieurbüro GmbH, Berlin, Germany – Arbeitsgemeinschaft Planung Elbphilharmonie
- Facade Maintenance Strategy: Univ.-Prof. Dr.-Ing. Manfred Helmus Ingenieurpartnerschaft, Wuppertal, Germany
- Noise Control: Taubert und Ruhe GmbH, Pinneberg, Germany
- Restoration Brick Facade: Jäger Ingenieure GmbH, Radebeul, Germany – TU Dresden, Dresden, Germany
- SAA Consulting – Audio/Video: Peutz Consult GmbH, Düsseldorf, Germany – ADA, Ahnert Design Acoustic, Berlin, Germany
- Thermal Simulation (Main Concert Hall): Ingenieurbüro Hausladen GmbH, Kirchheim, Germany in cooperation with Prof. Bjarne W. Olesen, Technical University of Denmark , Lyngby, Denmark
- Wind Engineering Consultants: Wacker Ingenieure, Birkenfeld, Germany