See Elbphilharmonie with a Hamburg Greeter
According to Hamburg music lovers, the world’s most extraordinary concert hall can be seen from far when sailing up the Elbe, but also from many points in the city center.
When the house opened at the beginning of 2017 – with a considerable delay and increased costs – the worldwide media response was huge and all concerts were fully booked for months. Even today, you still have to register well in advance for an official Elbphilharmonie tour. But every guided tour through HafenCity with a Hamburg greeter also leads to the Elbphilharmonie.
From our guests:
Hamburg’s new landmark
Better with the “tube”
Of course there are also elevators that take you to the Elbphilharmonie plaza. What is nicer, however, is the ride on the escalator, which is called the “Tube” in the Anglophile way.
The ride: Almost the length of a Beatles’ song.
With a journey time of two and a half minutes, it takes almost as long as a short Beatles’ song for the 82 metre long escalator to take you to the plaza. According to the manufacturer, the two-lane, convex-curved escalator is “the longest escalator in Western Europe and the only one in the world that describes an arc”.
For some people in Hamburg, however, the first journey was a disappointment, as the press reported before the opening that the journey would take almost six minutes; that would have been enough time for a Queen song…
Incidentally, the thousands of glass sequins on the walls do not conceal any light fittings; the glass panes only reflect the existing lighting. Incidentally, they are also the dominant design element of the ElPhi merchandising.
The curvature of the escalator probably has to do with statics and the fact that more space can be utilised under the escalator. There is also another explanation: the curvature means that you can’t see how far it goes from below…
Reward at the end
The ride ends at a height of 26 metres, 11 metres below the actual plaza.
Only shortly before the end of the journey can you see that you are travelling towards a huge panoramic window. The view is exciting: westwards to the jetties, the “Dancing Towers” and far down the Elbe to the container terminals.
If the window pane is well cleaned, you will hardly recognise it at first and only approach the edge carefully…
A short escalator takes you up to the actual plaza.
Large concert hall
A Vineyard at the Harbour
The design highlight in the Elbphilharmonie is the Great Hall with its 2150 seats. It is built according to the Weinberg principle, with the audience tiers on all sides of the central podium. As in its model, the Berlin Philharmonie, the orchestra is thus located in the middle of the hall.
The good view from all sides
Compared to the traditional “shoebox” model, in which the stage is located on one side of a rectangular room, the Weinberg architecture offers the advantage that spectators in all seats have a good view of the conductor and orchestra.
However, this advantage comes at the price of a greater challenge in terms of acoustics: on the one hand, the reflection of sound from the multi-faceted façade is more difficult to control, and disturbing echoes are also harder to avoid. Only a true master of acoustics could help.
Yasuhisa Toyota – an acoustic designer makes it possible
With the experience of 60 concert halls scattered around the globe, Japanese Yasuhisa Toyota seemed to be exactly the right person to turn the Elbphilharmonie into a world-class concert hall. His motto: “If you manage as an acoustician to make the audience no longer perceive the great distance to the music, you have done a good job.”
A first important measure already took place in the shell: the concert hall rests on 360 steel springs, so that all outside noise is absorbed.
Toyota met the challenge with the help of “white skin”: the walls are covered with thousands of white gypsum fiberboards. The surface of each panel is adapted to its respective place with angles and indentations. The optimal distribution of sound is also supported by a huge reflector under the ceiling.
On the plaza
Why then “Plaza”?
The Elbphilharmonie Plaza- located between the old “Kaispeicher A” and the glass new building of the Elbphilharmonie erected on it – is a public, to the meeting inviting place. From the inner plaza, stairways lead to the small and large concert halls of the Elbphilharmonie. Also to be found: the hotel “The Westin Hamburg”, the info store of the Elbphilharmonie and the snack bar “Deck & Deli”.
On both sides of the plaza – facing the water and the city center – eight-meter-high passageways open up to the outdoor plaza. It allows a complete tour around the Elbphilharmonie.
In front of both passages, the architects have stretched a kind of glass curtain. As a result, the interior plaza is not so draughty even when it is cold and windy. The successful wave design “curtains” alludes – just like the roof of the Elbphilharmonie – to the maritime context. Windless summer days offer the chance for the curtains to be opened.
Access to the plaza is free. To avoid overcrowding, access requires a ticket that allows entry during a specific time period at a time.
The free tickets are available directly in the entrance area of the Plaza (in summer with small waiting times) or across the street in the ticket store “Am Kaiserkai 62”.
Who wants to avoid waiting times or would like to enter the Plaza at a specified time, can also book the tickets in advance on the Internet at a price of € 2 each.
Good to know
- Groups with more than 6 people require paid tickets (5 € per person).
- Smoking is prohibited in the Plaza, as well as dogs.
- About the elevator group B, the Plaza also offers access for wheelchair users, barrier-free toilets are also available.
- Children under 3 years do not need a ticket.
ElPhi in numbers
If the Elbphilharmonie, with its 200,000 tonnes, were to be placed on a scale, it would need either 722 A-380 aircraft or two and a half Queen Mary II cruise ships to compensate.
The large concert hall alone weighs 12,500 tonnes: it rests in two concrete shells at a height of 50 metres on 362 steel springs. Even the sound of the largest ships no longer reaches the concert hall.
The steel used weighs even more: at 18,000 tonnes, more than twice as much steel was used as in the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
The Elbphilharmonie is supported by almost 1,800 piles. As the Elbphilharmonie is much heavier than the previous Kaispeicher A, around 650 new piles had to be installed.
Surfaces and spaces
The glass façade of the Elbphilharmonie consists of 1,100 individually shaped glass elements and covers an area of around 16,000 square metres, the equivalent of more than two football pitches.
More than 10,000 tiles were made for the wall panelling in the Great Hall. They form the “white skin” that ensures an optimal sound experience at every seat.
Incidentally, the Great Hall covers 40,000 cubic metres.
Want more figures?
… between 120 and 400 square metres are located in the Elbphilharmonie’s downstream frontage. Prices per square metre of between 15,000 and 25,000 euros allegedly make the Elbphilharmonie the most expensive residential building in Germany.
82 metres long…
…is the escalator up to the plaza at a height of 37 metres.
… has the hotel “The Westin”.
520 parking spaces…
…has the Elbphilharmonie’s multi-storey car park, which is located in the belly of the old Kaispeicher A warehouse.
4765 organ pipes…
is the size of the organ in the Great Hall. Their length varies between eleven millimetres and ten metres.
Find out more…
For an official Elbphilharmonie tour, this website will help you: https://www.elbphilharmonie.de/de/fuehrungen
All about "Greets"
- Duration: two to three hours and absolutely free
- Max. 6 people, no combination of different requests
- Meeting point and exact route: by agreement between guest and Greeter
- Request: please at least two weeks before desired date
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