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The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

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Article by George Chronopoulos
Posted on October 24th, 2011
in Architecture & Herzog & de Meuron

Hamburg is building a cultural landmark: The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg. In the middle of the flow of the river Elbe on approx. 1.700 reinforced concrete piles a building complex is emerging, which, in addition to three concert halls, will encompass a hotel, 45 private appartments and the publicly accessible Plaza with a 360° panoramic view of the city. The centerpiece of the Elbphilharmonie is also one of the most exciting construction challenges in Europe at the moment: A world-class concert hall at a height of 50 meters with seating for 2.150, which for soundproofing reasons is de-coupled from the rest of the building. The Elbphilharmonie is going to resemble the perfect interaction of architecture and music, a fantastic site within the historic port of the city.

The interplay between the archaic appearance of the warehouse and the bold curve of the glass corpus is the architectural calling card of the Elbphilharmonie. Old and new meld to create an exciting synthesis. On the one hand straightforward classic brick reflecting the influence of the docks and on the other the dazzling glass superstructure.

Between the warehouse and the new building there will be publicly accessible space, the Plaza. Nowhere else is the link between the docks and the city revealed so impressively as here. At a height of 37 meters visitors will be treated to a unique 360° panoramic view of the city. Measuring some 4.000 square meters the Plaza will be almost as big as the one in front of the City Town Hall and will be an ideal place for Hamburg’s citizens and tourists, concert-goers and hotel guests to stroll. Restaurants, bars and a ticket office will be located on the Plaza, as will the hotel lobby and the foyer staircase to the main auditorium. The Warehouse itself will be used as a multi-storey car park with approx. 510 spaces. It will also boast spa facilities and conference rooms, a music education section, further backstage rooms and not least of all the third auditorium with seating for approx. 170. All this is concentrated in the building as in a city, whose impressive entrance is reached via across an 82-meter long, concave escalator.

The initial idea for rejuvenating Warehouse A was the construction of the MediaCityPort. An office building for the media industry, which with a gross surface area of 50.000 square meters on the Warehouse A site was to tower up to a height of 90 meters. However, the end of the dotcom boom and the subsequent drop in demand meant it was never actually built.

Originally commissioned by the project developer Alexander Gérard, the star Swiss Architects Herzog & de Meuron came up with a »Hamburg Philharmonic Hall« project sketch. The idea could not have been any more forward looking: The construction of a Concert Hall on the historical warehouse, surrounded by commercial facilities and a publicly accessible Plaza.

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