Herzog and de Meuron's sparkling Hamburg Elbphilharmonie celebrates opening of public spaces

With the plaza, we wanted to create a place for everyone with a unique panorama: the outward-looking design of the spacious terrace, sprawling on the warehouse like a new public square, counterbalances the inward focus of the philharmonic hall above it
– Herzog and de Meuron

An elevated public platform within Herzog and de Meuron’s Hamburg Elbphilharmonie has been officially opened, along with building’s restaurants, cafés, bars and hotel.

Following nine and a half years of construction, the City of Hamburg has taken delivery of the building from construction firm Hochtief, and a ceremony to mark the milestone was held on 5 November.

Former dock workers and local students were among 200 Hamburg residents invited to experience the public viewing platform for the first time.

Situated between the former warehouse building, which now houses the venue’s car park, and the new glass structure located above it, which hosts two concert halls, the 37m high observation deck offers views of the city and its harbour and features an exterior walkway around the building.

Visitors reach the deck, which is conceived as a public plaza, via an 82m long curved escalator which leads to a large panorama window. From there, the path follows a second smaller escalator and spaciously designed stairs to the deck itself.

“The Elbphilharmonie is much more than just a spectacular concert hall,” said Herzog and de Meuron in a statement. “It’s a unique place, which reflects Hamburg’s social and cultural life.

“With the plaza, we wanted to create a place for everyone with a unique panorama: the outward-looking design of the spacious terrace, sprawling on the warehouse like a new public square, counterbalances the inward focus of the philharmonic hall above it.”

The plaza also houses the stairs to the concert halls, the lobby of The Westin Hamburg hotel and a café.

While the official opening of the concert halls will not take place until 11 and 12 January 2017, the musician Brian Eno and choreographer Sasha Waltz have, respectively, created a walk-through sound installation and a musical exploration of the Elbphilharmonie foyers to be held in the next few months.

The Hamburg Elbphilharmonie
The story of the building

The Elbe Philharmonic complex is built around a former warehouse known as the Kaispeicher A, designed by Werner Kallmorgen, which has been gutted and renovated. Visitors will enter via an 82m (269ft) escalator inside a glowing spherical tunnel, which rises through the building.

Set in contrast to the original brick facade of the Kaispeicher A, a glass covered volume – consisting of 1,100 individual panes – sits above. The windows are marked with small basalt grey reflective dots to prevent the structure from heating up in the sunlight, while at the same time creating a shimmering effect that changes as it catches different reflections.

The 7,000sq m (75,347sq ft) roof consists of eight spherical, concavely bent sections that form an elegantly curving silhouette.

The centrepiece of the complex is a world-class concert hall which rises 50m (164 ft) and can seat 2,100 spectators in interwoven tiers. To ensure excellent acoustics, the 12,500-tonne hall rests on 362 giant spring assemblies to decouple it from the rest of the building and features sound-modulating textured ‘white skin’ conceived with acclaimed acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota. Two other auditoria offer smaller experiences, with 550 and 150 seats.

The cost of the project, which took nearly a decade to complete, is reportedly €860m – over ten times the original budget of €77m.

However, city officials have expressed their delight with the finished project. At the opening ceremony, Hamburg’s mayor Olaf Scholz said: “The Elbphilharmonie is a place for everyone. Hamburg is a city of music, and you could call this its parliament. It is a concert hall that will wow the world.”

Herzog and de Meuron's  Hamburg  Elbphilharmonie  Germany  architecture  design 
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An elevated public platform within Herzog and de Meuron’s Hamburg Elbphilharmonie has been officially opened, along with building’s restaurants, cafés, bars and hotel. Following nine and a half years of construction, the City of Hamburg has taken delivery of the building from construction firm Hochtief, and a ceremony to mark the milestone was held on 5 November. Former dock workers and local students were among 200 Hamburg residents invited to
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Following nine and a half years of construction, the City of Hamburg has taken delivery of the building from construction firm Hochtief / Thies Rätzke
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