, 12. January 2017
A Concert Hall of Superlatives - Opening yesterday!

The Elbphilharmonie - Acoustics & Architectures at its Best?

Hamburg has a new landmark. New sounds are to be heard in the old harbor since yesterday. Does a historic dockside warehouse carry the best concert hall in the world? It took almost 10 years to build the large concert hall. It is supposed to be a stage not only for classical music.

x-working Built on the old Kaispeicher A, the Elbphilharmonie now shines with a hotel and apartments in the old harbor of Hamburg.
Built on the old Kaispeicher A, the Elbphilharmonie now shines with a hotel and apartments in the old harbor of Hamburg.

Thousands of workers have been developing the Elbphilharmonie project since 2007. Around the turn of the millennium, the HafenCity was to be built around the old, abandoned dockside warehouse. The independent urban planner and cultural lover Alexander Gèrard recognized the potential of the building. He asked his old fellow student Jaque Herzog from the well-known Swiss architectural firm Herzog-De Meuron for a draft. He drew a wave of glass on the brick building. A brilliant idea.

The project was originally planned for "only" 114 million euros. In 2007, the foundation was laid. At that time, however, not all the plans were ready. The director at that time Christoph Lieben-Seutter set the opening date for the year 2010. Only three years after the kick-off of the construction. One of the major challenges in the construction process was the fact that the store had to be lifted and remade from the inside. The external facade should not be damaged at all. It became clear that the ground cannot bear the new weight of the building, it had to become re-grounded. The initial all-inclusive price for the development grew inexorably. Ultimately, the construction made bombastic 866 million euros.

For example, the facade cost more than 50 million euros. That is about 50,000 euros per window element. Such a unique has never been built before. The company Sunglass bent a third of the windows in the town of Padova (Italy). There are only two companies worldwide for such a creation. The details are strictly secret.

It was clear that it was going to be more than a Philharmonic with a major and a minor hall. The building also houses a hotel and condominium. A public plaza is situated between the brick warehouse and the levitating seeming glass building. This is the longest curved tube escalator in the world, with a length of 82 meters.

The centerpiece is the round concert hall in the center of the building. Architecturally and acoustically sophisticated, even if some newspapers deny this magic. The audience should become part of the happening and experience the music in-depth instead of just listening. One of the world's best acousticians was instructed to assure this magic: Yasuhisa Toyota. "For us it was very difficult to calculate the acoustics for this hall. Nevertheless, a complicated room is better for us than a boring room", he said regarding the project.

There is nothing to be heard in the concert hall from harbor noise and ship horns. The architects have designed something special for this purpose. The hall floats so to speak in the middle of the building. It has an outer and an inner mantle, which entirely stand on steel springs. The hall is acoustically decoupled and soundproofed.

Now the opening of the long-planned Elbphilharmonie has been successful so far. With the German Federal Chancellor and the Federal President. After short welcoming speeches of the architect Herzog and President Gauck, the fine, internally flawless sound of Beethoven's overture "The Creatures of Prometheus" was played for the first time by the NDR Elbphilharmonie-Orchester Hamburg. Commented by conductor Thomas Hengelbrock: "This is one of the greatest musical events in my life. To be able to work here, to be able to rehearse here, to be able to make music - that is simply overwhelming!"

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