herzog & de meuron: elbphilharmonie hamburg nearing completion
herzog & de meuron: elbphilharmonie hamburg nearing completion herzog & de meuron: elbphilharmonie hamburg nearing completion
may 14, 2012
herzog & de meuron: elbphilharmonie hamburg nearing completion

elbphilharmonie hamburg by herzog & de meuron
image © designboom




construction on the elbphilharmonie hamburg, situated in the heart of germany’s second largest city along the river elbe, is nearing completion. designed by swiss architects herzog & de meuron, it is to be seen as more than just a concert hall and will include a 250 room hotel, along with 45 residential units, converging where the city meets the waterfront. the structure exists on contrasts. its foundation is formed from the historical warehouse, kaispeicher A, and it is above this brick base that herzog & de meuron’s undulating glass volume floats, composed of 1,100 individual panels, each measuring four to five metres wide, over three metres in height and weighing approximately 1.2 tonnes; the foyer boasts panes that reach even five metres in height. overall, the crystalline glass surface covers an area of 21,5000 square metres – the equivalent of three football fields. the panels have been designed to withstand the extreme conditions of hamburg’s legendary weather, and are able to tolerate gale-force winds– which move up to a speed of 150 km per hour– and torrential downpours, easily. small reflective dots have been applied to the windows in order to prevent the structure from heating up due to sunlight.


the windows are a masterpiece of engineering, and have all been separately marked, coated and shaped at 600 degrees celsuis, with millimetre precision in order to achieve the curvature of the edifice. the intensity of each window’s wave-like surface depends on their particular placement within the building. there are hatches which resemble fish-gills which stand to characterize the hotel and foyer, while horseshoe-shaped recesses form the balconies for the flats which are located at the westernmost tip of the structure. on the water facing side of the hall, an especially designed raster has been positioned to enable ship radar to locate elbphilharmonie.

the floating glass volume sits a top the historical warehouse, kaispeicher A
image © designboom




the plaza which is located at a height of 37 meters, is accessible to the public and reveals views of the surrounding riverside, city and citizens. visitors enter via ‘the tube’ an 82 meter long, curved escalator to reach this section which sits on top of the roof of the former warehouse; this is where the angular brick foundation and undulating glass superstructure intersect. besides offering panoramic outlooks, the 8-metre-high space gives views of the open framwork and galleries, providing an expansive spatial perspective.at 50 metres above the ground, weighing a total of 12,500 tonnes, the ‘grand hall’ rests on enormous steel springs. considered the heart of the elbphilharmonie, it has a seating capacity of 2,150. a special surface was developed for the walls and ceiling of the space called the ‘white skin’. it is made-up of 10,000 gypsum fibre panels which are milled on the basis of intricate 3-D calculations which reflect the sound in each corner of the hall, guaranteeing an optimal listening experience from every seat.


at the center of the tent-shaped vaulted ceiling, there is a reflector which distributes the sound of the orchestra equally throughout the hall. it is acoustically isolated from the rest of the structure so that even the blaring ship horns of vessels coming through the harbor cannot be heard. the technical aspects of devising the optimum acoustics within was the responsibility of acoustics specialist yasuhisa toyota. with his company nagata acoustics, toyota calculated the surround sound for the ‘grand hall’ using 3-D computer models. he then built a 1:10 scale model of the room, simulated the audience using 2,000 tiny felt dolls and dozens of sensitive microphones positioned to record the sound coming from the stage, and spent weeks analyzing the data to ‘tune’ the hall, sitting within the elbphilharmonie like a nut in a nutshell, where no amount of exterior noise can disturb a concert in progress an accompanying recital hall which retains the classic ‘shoebox’ layout, holds a seating capacity of 550. ideal for chamber music, it is outfitted with flexible seating and can also be used for balls and banquets. the kaistudio, sited within the existing foundation, will accommodate a 150 person audience, and is meant for experimental music, children’s concerts or as a rehearsal space for the orchestra and choir. the old warehouse will also house rehearsal rooms and an underground parking garage with over 500 parking spaces.


see designboom’s previous coverage of herzog & de meuron’s elbphilharmonie hamburg during the initial phases of construction.

the building’s 37 metre high plaza is situated where the brick warehouse intersects the glass structure
image © designboom

up close look at the 1,100 individual panes which make up the undulating glass façade
image © designboom

horseshoe-shaped recesses form the balconies of the residential units
image © designboom

view from the distance
image © designboom

view from across the river elbe
image © designboom

the elbphilharmonie hamburg among the city scape
image © designboom

the 82 meter ‘tube’
is a curved escalator which brings visitors up to the plaza

entering ‘the plaza’ from ‘the tube’

a panoramic window in the plaza reveals views of the surrounding riverside, city and citizens

the plaza is located at a height of 37 meters

the plaza is structurally supported by columns

the 8-metre-high space gives views of the open-work structure and galleries

stairway from the plaza leading up to the foyers

foyer 1

foyer 2

view downwards into the plaza from foyer 2

the grand hall

this main concert space accommodates 2,150 people

exterior night view



elbphilharmonie by herzog & de meuron
video courtesy of neutral digital

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elbphilharmonie (8 articles)