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Elbe Philharmonic Hall, Hamburg, Germany




Key Data


Elbe Philharmonic Hall, in Hamburg, is designed to house a concert building, a 250-room five-star hotel, a wellness and conference zone and 47 owner-occupied apartments. It is expected to begin operations in 2012. The apartments will enjoy a spectacular view eastwards down the Elbe River.

The Kaispeicher A factory building (constructed in the 1960s), upon which the hall is being constructed, will maintain its original façade structure and house many of the new facilities. The roof of the larger auditorium will be constructed to look similar to a series of large glassy waves floating above the distinctive Kaispeicher A building (used to store cocoa beans).

The design of the new building (a tent-like superstructure, sheathed in glass) was produced by Herzog & de Meuron in conjunction with Höhler and Werner Kallmorgen.

Hamburg city centre is undergoing redevelopment and expansion, with the HafenCity as the new link to the River Elbe. Together with the International Maritime Museum Hamburg and the planned cultural facilities in the Oberseequartier, Elbe Philharmonic Hall Hamburg will be the cultural heart of the HafenCity and a further highlight in the largest inner city urban development area in Europe.

In October 2005, the Hamburg Parliament voted to construct the Elbe Philharmonic concert hall. The decision followed a feasibility study, which concluded it was both economically and technically viable to build a new concert hall on the top of Kaispeicher A. Generous support for the project has come from patrons. The building will be completed by 2012. The entire complex, along the warehouse docks on the Elbe River, will occupy more than 700,000ft². It is estimated to have cost about €400m.

Apartments and construction of the philharmonic hall

"Hamburg city centre is undergoing redevelopment and expansion, with the HafenCity as the new link to the River Elbe."

The Elbe Philharmonic Hall will be more than just a concert hall - it will form an entire residential and cultural complex. In the west, the residential section will tower 110m above the Elbe. The 47 apartments will offer impressive views out over the city and the port, and have a separate entrance. Plans include a five-star hotel with conference facilities on the east side.

The Europe-wide tender to find a construction company to build the hotel and apartment portion of the project ended in the third quarter of 2006.

The project coordinator, Hartmut Wegener, recommended that the IQ² consortium (Hochtief Construction Corporation and CommerzLeasing) be chosen as the company to finance the hotel and apartment portion and construct the new hall complex. Nagata Acoustics is the acoustics consultant.

The building topped out in May 2010, with the inauguration of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall scheduled for May 2012.

Base building and façade for the concert hall, apartments and hotel

The base structure for the new hall is the Kaispeicher A, which was designed by Werner Kallmorge and built more than 40 years ago, between 1963 and 1966. Its strong lines, distinctive cubism and characteristic façades will be retained. Up to two-thirds of the space will be used for car parking (510 vehicles), with some used as backstage areas. Additional space will be given over to provide educational facilities for the Elbe Philharmonic, particularly those aiding children's musical advancement.

The new building portions will be clad with a grid-pattern of three-dimensional square openings. The sister warehouse building, the Kaispeicher B, will house the Peter Tamm International Maritime Museum. It will provide visitors with an insight into maritime history from all corners of the world.

The new building will be a resplendent glass body, whose surface is formed differently in certain sections.

The single-shell glass façade will work in three different internal functions in the building. In the hotel, the air vents become wave-like hatches, while the balconies of the apartments - horseshoe-shaped recesses in the glass - guarantee spectacular views, protection from the wind and lateral ventilation of the connecting rooms all at once.

The concert auditorium, which faces inwards, shimmers with its amber-coloured foyer through the glass wall. A grid of white dots will also be printed on the facade to provide protection from the sun.

The density of the grid will be individually calculated, with the aid of a computer, so that each room has appropriate protection depending on its function and position.

Hall dynamics for visitors and tourists

Escalators will deliver visitors through the Kaispeicher A and into an open plaza 37m up. The plaza is a freely accessible zone positioned like a radiant joint between the warehouse and the new building. From there, visitors will be able to enjoy a magnificent view over the port, the River Elbe and the city.

The plaza will form the heart of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall, it will resemble a market place where visitors can meet. The outdoor terraces will offer a unique panorama with views of the city centre to the North, HafenCity to the East and the Elbe and the harbour to the south and west.

The interior of the plaza will be dominated by the curved ceiling with its varying geometrical shape. It will afford spectacular views of the city and the harbour. Deep recesses are part of the design of building above the plaza, offering varied views between the plaza and the different levels of the foyer.

On the plaza itself, there will be a number of restaurants and bars, as well as entrances to the hotel lobby and residential complex. Sculptural staircases will lead to the foyers of the philharmonic hall.

Interior of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall

Visitors will be able to reach the foyer of the large concert auditorium by passing through the staircase sculpture below the auditorium.

The foyer spreads out upwards to the façades and leads the visitor further and further into an unmistakable architectural landscape. A sweeping three-storey staircase leads up from the plaza to the level of the small auditorium, which is a completely separate area with its own infrastructure.

Elbe Philharmonic Hall aims to be one of the best concert auditoriums in the world. It will be an outstanding venue for classical music, as well as jazz, world music and pop.

The large concert auditorium, with approximately 2,150 seats, will take pride of place in the Elbe Philharmonic Hall. It will not follow the orthogonal concept of a so-called shoebox stage.

The orchestra and conductor are situated in the centre and the audience seating sections rise up in interlocking irregular terraces to form a steep-sided cauldron. Light will be reflected from the bright surfaces. The reflector in the sharply pointed ceiling is a striking feature. It will ensure outstanding acoustics and is also part of the lighting system.

Auditorium acoustics and new waterfront environment of HafenCity

Elbe Philharmonic Hall Hamburg aims to have one of the best concert auditoriums in the world. It will provide for an outstanding performance location for classical music, jazz, world music and pop.

"In October 2005, the Hamburg Parliament voted to construct the Elbe Philharmonic concert hall. The decision followed a feasibility study, which concluded it was viable to build a new concert hall."

The large concert auditorium, with approx 2,150 seats, will be the pride of the place in the Elbe Philharmonic Hall Hamburg.

The auditorium has an unconventional design, with the orchestra and conductor situated in the centre and audience seating terraced to form a steep-sided cauldron.

Light is reflected from the bright surfaces. It has a reflector in the sharp pointed ceiling that ensures greater acoustics and brighter lighting system. Yasuhisa Toyota, the chief acoustician, designed and put in place the advanced acoustics system for the Elbe Philharmonic Hall.

The HafenCity project remains unique. This is a function of its size - 155ha stretching 3km from east to west and up to 1,000m north to south - and location. No other city in Europe is in a position to develop such a large new district right in its centre, or increase the size of the city centre by 40%.

No other city has the opportunity to redevelop a waterfront environment, complete with rich dockside and industrial heritage in the form of the Speicherstadt historic warehouse district and integrate it into the city centre, only 800m from the town hall. HafenCity will become home to around 12,000 new occupants, a place to work for more than 40,000 people, and an attraction for millions of visitors.

When the apartments are finished, the centre of Hamburg will have doubled its population. With the development of HafenCity's exceptional cultural and leisure facilities, the city will gain a vibrant, cosmopolitan setting complete with generous waterfront city squares and a variety of interesting shops and restaurants.

Financial aspects of the Hamburg-based project

The Elbe Philharmonic Hall is a public private partnership (PPP). ReGe Hamburg Projekt - Realisierungsgesellschaft is the developer on behalf of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.

Elbe Philharmonic Hall Hamburg Foundation was founded under private law in October 2005. The initiative was taken by Bankhauser MM Warburg & Co and HSN Nordbank to jointly foster realisation of the project. The concern of the foundation is not to raise short-term donations for the construction work, but to attract long-term donations to the foundation's capital. The donations collected will be used towards realising the philharmonic hall project, and later for music instruction for children and young people, as well as innovative projects.

Financing will be covered via three channels: proceeds from the sale of the condominiums, rental income from the commercial development of the plot, not to mention donations from local citizens.

Image showing the new Elbe Philharmonic Hall.
Conceptual image of the new Elbe Philharmonic Hall.
The plaza of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall.
Foyer of the new Elbe Philharmonic Hall.
The grand auditorium.
The waterfront prior to the development of Hafen City.
Construction of Hafen City.
The whole Hafen City development from the air.