Elbphilharmonie marks 5-year anniversary
Hamburg's iconic concert house opened its doors on January 11, 2017. To mark this anniversary, we've picked out some surprising facts and figures about the futuristic building.
Since opening to the public, Elbphilharmonie — Hamburg's Elbe Philharmonic Hall — has quickly become a magnet for visitors. A total of 15 million people have flocked to the city's new cultural landmark. With concert tickets selling out quickly, many have visited purely to experience the venue's breathtaking architecture.
The Elbphilharmonie, affectionately known as Elphi, sits atop a former brick warehouse once used for storing cocoa. The concert hall's sail-like exterior is covered in some 16,000 square meters of glass paneling — equivalent in size to two football pitches. The building was designed by Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron.
Suspended sound reflector
A funnel-shaped, 50-ton sound reflector hangs suspended from the ceiling of the Great Hall. Its job is to bounce acoustic waves back to the stage and optimize overall acoustics. The contraption also houses lights and technical equipment.
This 2015 picture shows the Great Hall and acoustic reflector still under construction. What is not visible, meanwhile, is its high-end sound proofing. The hall is contained within its very own cocoon, fully isolated from the building's exterior walls. This prevents outside noise from leaking in.
Western Europe's longest escalator
This curved escalator, 82 meters (269 feet) in length, transports visitors from the main entrance up to the 6th floor viewing platform. Riding the longest escalator in Western Europe takes exactly 150 seconds. Since the coronavirus outbreak began, an ultraviolet light device has been installed to disinfect the handrails.
Hamburg's classiest vaccination center
On select days in September, October and November 2021, the Elbphilharmonie was converted into a temporary vaccination center. Jabs were administered in the otherwise inaccessible backstage area. Afterwards, patients could settle down and relax on the Great Hall stage. It was described as "Hamburg's most spectacular vaccination center."
High-tech bird deterrent
The building boats a spacious outdoor viewing terrace offering magnificent views of Hamburg and its bustling port. A sophisticated bird deterrent system, emitting ultrasonic waves inaudible to humans, keeps pigeons and other birds away. Their droppings, after all, are not just an eyesore, but can pose health risks as well.
Viewing platform reopens
After closing due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Elbphilharmonie viewing platform reopened in May 2021. Some 10 million guests had visited by summer 2019. Anyone eager to head up these days must book tickets well in advance, as operators are keen to avoid overcrowding. Guest are urged to maintain a safe distance from others, and are obliged to don face masks.
The Westin Hamburg
The Elbphilharmonie also houses the Westin Hamburg, a five-star hotel. Its 200 rooms and almost 40 suites are spread across 21 floors. One night in the lavish 162-square-meter (1,744-square-foot) Eigner Suite will set you back €3,000 (about $3,500). But for that, you'll have no less than two bathrooms, a sauna, a compact kitchen — and breathtaking panoramic views of the city.
Living in a landmark
The extravagant edifice houses not only concert halls and a hotel, but also more than 40 apartments. In 2018, the last remaining penthouse, a luxurious 290-square-meter residence, was sold to an anonymous buyer for some €11 million. It is located on the building's western tip.
Distinguished violinists, pianists, opera singers, conductors and orchestras regularly grace the Elbphilharmonie. So far, Anne-Sophie Mutter, Helene Grimaud, Jonas Kaufmann, Daniel Barenboim and many others have performed here. So, too, have legendary experimental band Einstürzende Neubauten (pictured) and indie-rock icons The National. Here's to many more years of eclectic live performances!