With Hamburg Greeters to the Elbphilharmonie
In the place where the foundation of Hamburg’s wealth was laid, the Elbphilharmonie stands as Hamburg’s new landmark: in the centre of the port.
According to Hamburg music lovers, the world’s most extraordinary concert hall can be seen from afar as you sail up the Elbe River but also from many points in the city center.
When the building opened at the beginning of 2017 – with considerable delay and cost increases – the worldwide media echo remained for a week at the level of New York in terms of its importance and perception. Even today, you have to book well in advance for an official Elbphilharmonie tour. But every HafenCity tour with the Hamburg Greeters also leads to the Elbphilharmonie, of course.
Hamburg’s new landmark
Lieber with the “Tube”
Of course, there are also elevators that bring you to the plaza of the Elbphilharmonie. But more beautiful is the ride on the escalator, which is called quite anglophile “Tube”.
The ride: almost as long as a Beatles song
With two and a half minutes of travel time, it takes almost as long as a short Beatles song until the 82-meter escalator brings 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 Hamburg residents, the first ride was nevertheless a disappointment, because the press said before the opening that the ride takes almost six minutes; then it would have been enough for a Queen song as well…
Behind the thousandfold glass sequins on the walls, by the way, no illuminants hide, the glass panes reflect only the existing lighting. By the way, they are also the dominant design element of the ElPhi merchandising.
The curvature of the escalator probably has to do with statics and with the fact that more space can be used under the escalator as a result. Also other explanation pushes itself: by the curvature one does not see from below, how far it goes altogether…
Reward at the end
The ride ends at a height of 26 meters, 11 meters below the actual plaza.
Only shortly before the end of the ride you can see that you are driving towards a huge panoramic window. The view is exciting: down the Elbe, towards Landungsbrücken, the “Dancing Towers” and the container terminals.
If the window is well cleaned, you hardly recognize it at first and approach the edge only cautiously…
A short escalator later you get 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 tons in a scale would lie, it would need to the balance either 722 A-380 airplanes or two and a half cruise ships of the type “Queen Mary II”.
The large concert hall alone weighs 12,500 tons: it rests 50 meters above the ground on 362 steel springs in two concrete shells. Even the toot of the largest ships thus no longer reaches the concert hall.
The steel used weighs even more: at 18,000 tons, more than twice as much steel was used as in the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
Nearly 1,800 support piles carry the Elbphilharmonie. Since the Elbphilharmonie is much heavier than the previous Kaispeicher A, around 650 piles had to be reinstalled.
Surfaces and spaces
The Elbphilharmonie’s glass facade consists of 1,100 individually shaped glass elements and covers an area of about 16,000 square meters, the equivalent of more than two soccer fields.
More than 10,000 tiles were made for the wall cladding in the Great Hall. They form the “white skin” that ensures an optimal sound experience at every seat.
By the way, the Great Hall comprises 40,000 cubic meters.
More numbers pleasing?
… between 120 and 400 square meters are located in the downstream front of the Elbphilharmonie. Square meter prices between 15,000 and 25,000 euros make the Elbphilharmonie allegedly the most expensive residential building in Germany.
82 meters long…
…is the escalator up to the Plaza in 37 meters height.
… Has the hotel “The Westin”.
520 parking spaces…
…has the Elbphilharmonie parking garage, which is located in the belly of the old Kaispeicher A.
4765 organ pipes…
has the organ in the Great Hall. Their length varies between eleven millimeters and ten meters.
For an official Elbphilharmonie tour, this website will help: 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
- More about Greets