Construction of Hamburg's cultural jewel reaches mid-point
When people ask where you live they tend to expect a rather drab response. When people ask the lucky homeowners of this new development in Hamburg where they live, the answer will be much more arresting: "I live in Elbphilarmonie," they will say, and the interrogator shall be dumbstruck.
Having occupied the books at Herzog & de Meuron since 2003, Elbphilarmonie is one of the most anticipated builds in the German metropolitan city. Designed as the icon of the new cultural epicentre on Hamburg's harbour, the project is comprehensive consisting of a large concert hall, a chamber music hall, restaurant, bars, apartments, a hotel, a panorama terrace with views of Hamburg and the harbour...and the all important parking facilities. Having commenced construction in 2007, the solid and dominating Kaispeicher, or warehouse, base has been visibly regenerated while the delivery of the new glazed upper levels is now under way.
The duality of the design is cleverly integrated into the fabric of its topography presenting as a mirror of the quay and the water with waves cresting atop the structure. The core of the building will be its cultural heart within the Kaispeicher, an old cocoa bean warehouse constructed in the 1960's. The solid structure will now bear the weight of its new crystalline crown, which peaks at 110 metres above the Elbe, housing the major concert hall seating 2100 and a chamber music hall for 550 listeners as well as a 5-star hotel and luxury flats.
Elbphilarmonie attempts to create a new concept for performance venues: "This is a project of the 21st century that would have been inconceivable before," say the architects. "What has been retained is the fundamental idea of the Philharmonic as a space where orchestra and conductor are located in the midst of the audience, as it were: here the architecture and the arrangement of the tiers take their cue from the logic of the acoustic and visual perception of music, performers, and audience. But that logic leads to another conclusion. The tiers are more pervasive; tiers, walls, and ceiling form a spatial unity. The people, that is the audience and the musicians, determine the space; the space seems to consist only of people."
In total 45 residential units are up for offer, all of which will benefit from being at the heart of a cultural renaissance in Hamburg, from the idyllic harbour location and from what is expected to be the pièce de résistance, a rooftop plaza on which to take a leisurely stroll. 2011 is the date to await for completion.
Niki May Young