The Elbe Philharmonic Hall (German:Elbphilharmonie) is a concert hall in the HafenCity quarter of Hamburg, Germany, on the Grasbrook (de) peninsula of the Elbe River. It is one of the largest and most acoustically advanced concert halls in the world. It is popularly nicknamed Elphi. The Elbphilharmonie was officially inaugurated with concerts of the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchestra and a light show on 11 January 2017.
In the flow of the Elbe and surrounded on three sides by water, the new concert hall will become the centre of attraction for all who live in Hamburg as well as for visitors from all over the world. The spectacular building houses three concert halls, a large music education area, a range of places to eat and drink, a hotel and the public Plaza, which offers visitors an unparalleled panoramic view over the whole city. Artistic quality, variety and accessibility shape the musical programme of Hamburg’s new cultural landmark.
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 in Hamburg, with a final height of 108 metres (354 ft).
The Elbphilharmonie is a total work of art: it combines innovative architecture with an exceptional location, outstanding acoustics and a visionary concert programme.
The Elbphilharmonie with its impressive glass facade and wave-like rooftop rises up from the former Kaispeicher building on the western tip of the HafenCity. Accommodated inside are two concert halls, a hotel and residential apartments. Between the old warehouse and the glass structure is the Plaza – a public viewing area that extends around the whole building.
The building is designed as a cultural and residential complex. The original 1966 brick façade of the Kaispeicher A, formerly a warehouse, was retained at the base of the building. On top of this a footprint-matching superstructure rests on its own foundation exhibiting a glassy exterior and a wavy roof line. About one thousand glass windows are curved. The building has 26 floors with the first eight floors within the brick façade. It reaches its highest point with 108 meters at the western side. The footprint of the building measures 120,000 m2. A curved escalator from the main entrance at the east side connects the ground floor with an observation deck, the Plaza, at the 8th floor, the top of the brick section. The Plaza is accessible by the public. It offers a view of Hamburg and the Elbe. From the Plaza the foyer of the concert hall can be reached.
The design of the architect’s office Herzog & de Meuron provided on the then still existing structure of the brick Kaispeicher A of 1966 before a glass-clad structure with a strikingly curved roof shape, which was also called “glass shaft”. The goal was a characteristic feature of the building to form an unmistakable silhouette in Hamburg. Contrary to the very first plans, the former storage building was completely gutted. Only the listed facade and parts of the foundations have been preserved. The load-distributing floor slab of the building is based on 1732 piles , which were rammed deep into the Elbe floor. The 12,500 t heavy, independent structure of the Great Concert Hall is completely decoupled from the overall building with a total of 342 steel spring packages at the bottom and 34 in the roof area. The tailor-made structure was given a glass façade consisting of a total of 1100 individual glass elements, each consisting of four panes of glass. All panes received a built-in light and heat protection by printed screened films. 595 glass elements are individually curved. One of these glass windows cost about 72,000 euros. According to the architects, the curved façade elements give the impression of a huge crystal that reflects the sky, the water and the city again and again.
The building has 26 storeys, with the façade of Kaispeicher A enclosing it from the ground floor to the plaza on the eighth floor, a former cocoa, tea and tobacco store in an exposed area of the old Port of Hamburg south of the Speicherstadt. It has a height of about 110 meters at the highest point on the Kaispitze, the lowest point on the eastern facade is about 30 meters lower. Thus, the building has replaced the rectangular Radisson Hotel building by a few meters as the tallest inhabited building in Hamburg. Due to the wedge shape of the memory, the spatial body of the Elbphilharmonie is 85 meters in the east and 22 meters in the west.
The main entrance to the house via an approximately 80 -meter-long, slightly curved escalator and a shorter, straight escalator, which together the ground floor with the Plaza, a free and limited by tickets regulated access level at the level of the former Kaispeicher Badger . The passenger initially only sees that he is approaching a light over the largest section of the 2.5-minute journey. The steps of the 21-meter escalator are not moved as usual by a drive from above, but by four decentralized drives, which are electronically synchronized. The inclination of the steps drops from the beginning of 23 degrees to about 11 degrees at the end of the staircase. The steps, which initially have the usual height for escalators, are only a few centimeters high at the top. The tube called a tube leads directly to a large picture window on the narrow side of the building towards the harbor. In addition to the tube, a total of 29 elevators and eleven stairwells open up the entire building.
The burdens of the Great Concert Hall are very unevenly distributed. This required eight irregularly arranged large inner columns and their inclination. In addition, the lack of outer columns in the plaza made oblique columns in the two floors above them necessary.
The Elbphilharmonie has three concert venues. The Great Concert Hall can accommodate 2,100 visitors whereby the performers are in the center of the hall surrounded by the audience in the vineyard style arrangement. The acoustics were designed by Yasuhisa Toyota who installed about 10,000 individually microshaped drywall plates to disperse sound waves. The Great Concert Hall contains a pipe organ with 69 registers built by Klais Orgelbau. The Recital Hall is intended for the performance of recitals, chamber music and jazz concerts; it can hold an audience of 550 people. In addition, there is the Kaistudio that allows for 170 visitors and is intended to serve educational activities. The consultant for the scenography of the concert hall was Ducks Scéno.
The easternmost part of the building is rented by Westin as the Westin Hamburg Hotel that opened on 4 November 2016. The hotel offers 244 rooms between the 9th and 20th floors. The lobby in the 8th floor can be accessed from the Plaza. The upper floors west of the concert hall accommodate 45 luxury apartments. The complex also houses conference rooms, restaurants, bars, and a spa. A parking garage for 433 cars is part of the building complex as well.
Users of the concert halls are HamburgMusik gGmbH. Even before the inauguration ceremony organized this society so-called “Elbphilharmonie concerts” both in the Laeiszhalle and at other venues in Hamburg. General Manager of the Elbphilharmonie and the Laeiszhalle since 2007 Christoph Lieben-Seutter. The NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester is the residence orchestra in the house, the Ensemble Resonanz Residenzensemble. The center of a comprehensive music education offer is the Elbphilharmonie Instrumentenwelt in the former Kaispeicher area of the house.
There is the large concert hall with 2100 seats, a small hall with 550 seats and a third hall, the Kaistudio 1, with 170 seats. The foyer around the large hall is designed with oak parquet.
The Great Hall follows the principle of a “vineyard architecture”, which goes back to the architect Hans Scharoun and his design of the Berlin Philharmonic Hall (1957). In this design, the stage is slightly offset in the middle of the hall, while the vineyard-like rising ranks group around it. In the Elbphilharmonie no seat is more than 30 meters away from the conductor’s podium. The hall is 25 meters high.
The internationally renowned acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota was hired to achieve the best possible sound effect for this room. Toyota has already created the concepts of more than fifty other concert halls and concert halls worldwide. To test the acoustics of the Great Hall, Toyota had a five by five meter model in 1:10 scale. Based on his measurements, the Great Hall was covered with a total of 10,000 CNC-milled gypsum fiberboards covering an area of 6,500 square meters. Each of these plates is unique, between 35 and 200 millimeters thick and has a basis weight between 30 and 125 kg / m². The three-dimensional surface of the panels consists of a non-repeating pattern of pits, grooves, and pyramidal cones, also called microshaping, that were created on the computer using mathematical algorithms. Over the entire wall surface of the hall around one million fist-sized cells, sprinkle the sound. The acoustic interior wall cladding is also called “white skin”, the architect Jacques Herzog prefers this term, however, associations such as crustaceans or shells. Originally for the insulation already inserted threads between the plates with a total length of four kilometers had to be removed again, replaced by silicone.
The Small Hall has wall panels made of milled and arched oakwood from the Loire Valley. It serves primarily for the performance of chamber music and is also open to other uses such as jazz concerts or banquets.
The organ in the Great Hall was built by the organ builder Johannes Klais Orgelbau (Bonn). The development and production took a total of eight years and was continued during the construction freeze. Since the instrument here – in contrast to other concert halls – placed in the middle of the auditorium, the front pipes had to be protected with a special coating. The instrument has 69 registers 4765 pipes , distributed on five manuals and pedal. It is playable by two four-manual game tables, one fixed to the organ and one mobile game table on the orchestra stage. Four registers are housed as a telescope in the ceiling reflector of the hall, including punching stentor clarinets; The remote can be coupled to any manual work and to the pedal freely. The organ has a width and a height of about 15 meters each and a depth of about 3 meters; she weighs about 25 t. The maximum wind consumption is about 180 m³ per minute. The Spieltraktur of the fixed Spie
In contrast to the Grand Hall, the Recital Hall is designed in the classic »shoebox« style. An elegantly milled wooden panelling supplies a perfect acoustic. Both the Grand Hall and the Recital Hall of the Elbphilharmonie are acoustically autonomous spaces that are completely detached from the rest of the building. Massive steel spring elements perfectly buffer the concrete shell of each respective hall from the outside world. No ships’ sirens will ever penetrate these spaces, and not even the sound of a loud trombone ensemble will escape to the outside.
Public Space: The Plaza
Between the brick base and the glass structure, at 37 meters , there is a public space that serves as the access level for the foyer of the concert halls and the hotel. The Plaza is accessed via an approximately 80 meters long and 21 meters high escalator (the so-called tube) and a second, shorter escalator. Part of the Plaza is an outdoor tour around the entire building. From here you have a view over the Norderelbe, the harbor, HafenCity and the city center as well as insights into the different levels of the concert foyer.
The floor of the Plaza is paved with approximately 188,000 red bricks, which correspond to the look of the historic store according to the architects. The builders were looking for a brickyard to be built, which could burn these tiles – even with small defects like the model of the Kaispeicher. The architects gave the most accurate information on the installation.
The four-star plus hotel “The Westin Hamburg” with 244 rooms is located in the east section of the building’s 6th to the 20th floor, operated by the Westin Hotels & Resorts hotel chain, part of the Starwood Hotels and Resorts group. The opening took place on 4 November 2016. On the 6th floor there is a spa area with pool, saunas and fitness area and on the 7th floor a conference area and a restaurant for 170 guests. The lobby is located on the 8th floor with access from the public plaza and from the entrance area on the ground floor.
In the western part of the Kaispeicher, the brick base of the Elbphilharmonie, there is the restaurant “Störtebeker”, which is operated on three floors by the Störtebeker Braumanufaktur together with the east Hotel & Restaurant GmbH. On the 5th floor there is a restaurant and bar for a total of 220 guests, on the 6th floor there is a shop and beer tasting area. The Plaza on the 8th floor also has a deli serving snacks and drinks. In addition to the Störtebeker gastronomy, there are further gastronomic offers in the hotel and in the concert area of the Elbphilharmonie.
In addition to the cultural use of the concert halls and the music education area, the building comprises 45 upscale residential units, which are among the most expensive in the city with purchase prices of up to 10 million euros.
In the former Kaispeicher, there is next to the Kaistudio 1 and premises for the music education area also a parking garage with 433 parking spaces, of which 170 are reserved for hotel guests and owners of condominiums. Car park operator is Apcoa Parking.
Urban marketing concept
The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg was already advertised at an early stage by HafenCity Hamburg GmbH, which is responsible for the development and marketing of HafenCity, alongside the International Maritime Museum Hamburg, which opened in 2008, and the formerly planned Science Center as one of the central cultural institutions of HafenCity. In addition to its use as a concert hall, the Senate of the Elbphilharmonie also expected the creation of a landmark for Hamburg and the HafenCity, especially with regard to the city’s international representation. The motif of creating a landmark was taken up early for official advertising and image campaigns. The city has accompanied the opening with an extensive campaign to significantly strengthen Hamburg’s international perception. The control and coordination of the campaign was at the Hamburg Marketing GmbH together with the Hamburg Authority for Culture and Media and the Hamburg Music gGmbH.
In the 2010/2011 season there was a concert on the cruise ship Queen Mary 2: The Fauré Quartet played on their journey from 26 August 2010 from Hamburg to New York. In the Laeiszhalle, four resident artists each performed several concerts with Mariss Jansons, Thomas Hampson, Piotr Anderszewski and the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen, as well as the Vienna Philharmonic, the Amsterdam Concertgebouw Orchestra, the Bayerischer Rundfunk Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic Orchestra and the Budapester Festival Orchestra as guest. With John Malkovich in the music theater “The Giacomo Variations” started the Elbphilharmonie concerts in the season 2011/2012, in which also the Hamburg violinist Christian Tetzlaff, the Belcea Quartet, the Deutsche Kammerphilharmonie Bremen and Sir Simon Rattle were guests. The fourth season was opened in September 2012 Claudio Abbado with the Lucerne Festival Orchestra in the Laeiszhalle. In the 2013/2014 season, the 1st International Music Festival Hamburg, a cooperation of several Hamburg concert promoters, took place, which was repeated in 2016 and will take place annually from 2018. The season 2015/2016 was the last season in which the Elbphilharmonie concerts took place mainly in the Laeiszhalle, the first season with concerts in the Elbphilharmonie was the season 2016/2017.
In the first half of the year following the opening of the new concert hall, the tightly packed musical program included concerts of various genres – from orchestral concerts with international conductors such as Riccardo Muti and soloists such as Cecilia Bartoli, to jazz greats such as Brad Mehldau, to the Einstürzende Neubauten and smaller theme festivals such as Salam Syria. The Hamburg orchestras also played a large part in the program: the NDR Elbphilharmonie Orchester, the Philharmonic Staatsorchester Hamburg and the Ensemble Resonanz. On January 27, 2017, the Latvian organist Iveta Apkalna, as titular organist of the Elbphilharmonie, inaugurated the organ in the Great Hall with a solo concert. Several concerts were transmitted during the season from the Great Hall via livestream , the end of August 2017, there was a free concert cinema on the forecourt of the Elbphilharmonie. Artists of the 2017/18 season include Peter Eötvös, Sir Simon Rattle, Daniil Trifonov, the Bavarian Radio Symphony Orchestra under Mariss Jansons, Barbara Hannigan and the American rock band The National. Focal points and festivals are Schubert’s Liederzyklus A Winterreise, dedicated to the music of the Caucasus, Georg Philipp Telemann and Czech composers. Furthermore, HamburgMusik gGmbH also organizes series and concerts in the Laeiszhalle.
In addition to the concert business, one focus of HamburgMusik gGmbH’s work is the provision of music: as of 2010, children’s and baby concerts in various Hamburg districts as well as workshops, artist encounters and music theater were offered under the Elbphilharmonie Kompass brand. Among other things, the Elbphilharmonie Foundation and the Cyril and Jutta A. Palmer Foundation helped with grants. After the opening of the Elbphilharmonie, the music education service for all ages was extended extensively. The Klingende Museum Hamburg moved from the Laeiszhalle to the Kaispeicher of the Elbphilharmonie and was renamed the Elbphilharmonie Instrumentenwelt. In keeping with its mission to be a home for all, the Elbphilharmonie’s education program includes children’s concerts, musical theater, school classes and day-care centers, as well as a variety of instrument workshops for everyone, five amateur ensembles and supporting events at selected concerts.
In addition to HamburgMusik gGmbH and the Residenz ensembles, the Philharmonic State Orchestra Hamburg also uses the concert hall. Parallel to the opera house, it is organizing philharmonic concerts, with which it has also moved in the spring of 2017 from the Laeiszhalle as a permanent venue in the Great Hall of the Elbphilharmonie. Chief conductor of the orchestra and at the same time Hamburg music director has been Kent Nagano since summer 2015. Furthermore, the rooms of the Elbphilharmonie are also leased to a wide range of concert promoters and ensembles, with HamburgMusik gGmbH organizing about one third of the program itself.