drift’s drones light up elbphilharmonie hamburg


a stunning synchronized lighting performance of hundreds of drones illuminate the façade of the herzog de meuron-designed elbphilharmonie hamburg. the light installation, created by DRIFT, is staged to celebrate the concert hall’s fifth anniversary, after reaching completion finally in january 2017 after nine and a half years of construction.


art should be accessible to as many people as possible. that’s why we designed our installation for the public space. when we started working with the elbphilharmonie, we both immediately agreed that we need to bring what’s happening indoors to the outside, where people can see it,‘ says ralph nauta, co-founder of studio DRIFT with lonneke gordijn.

DRIFT's breaking waves of illuminated drones wrap elbphilharmonie hamburg
all images © moka studio



sychronization of building, water and music


called breaking waves, DRIFT realized the light performance with the execution of its sister company drone stories to playfully bring the elbphilharmonie hamburg to life. the synchronized team of drones explore the movement of water that surrounds the concert hall, connecting the building, river and music as one artwork. it wraps around the west, south and north façades so that the public can spectate from the surrounding harbor area.


the light sculpture also connects to the movement and music inside the venue. the display is choreographed to the second movement of thomas adès’s concerto for piano and orchestra, which is being performed in the anniversary concert in the grand hall. the waves will last for around seven minutes on the evening of april 28, 2022, shown after nightfall for maximum impact.



project info:


artist: DRIFT

execution: drone stories

performance: breaking waves

venue: elbphilharmonie hamburg

premier: april 28, 2022

collaborator: museum für kunst und gewerbe hamburg

funding: freundeskreis elbphilharmonie + laeiszhalle e.V.

commission: superblue