Legal issues arise over Herzog & de Meuron's delayed Elbphilharmonie scheme
Herzog & de Meuron’s extravagant Elbphilharmonie project in Hamburg, Germany, has hit another snag as reports surface that contractor HochTief is facing a €40m lawsuit from the city of Hamburg over escalating construction costs. HochTief ceased work on the immense scheme in November 2011 after fears were raised over the stability of the existing building’s roof, onto which a 2,000 tonne steel and concrete structure has been lifted. The final dead weight of the roof system is thought to be 3,800 tonnes upon completion.
The project was originally set to complete in 2010, a date which came and passed, and is now scheduled for realisation by the end of 2014. Over 100 prefabricated, individual concrete slabs were lifted into place on the asymmetrical structure’s roof last summer, reaching 2,000 tonnes. This undulating system is placed on the top of an existing 17th century warehouse and will house a number of performance spaces and public volumes.
Local reports suggest that examinations carried out by Hamburg officials found the roof structure to be secure, with Welt Online quoting Hamburger Stadtentwicklungsbehörde as saying: “The built, existing hall roof structure of the Elbphilharmonie, including the expected charges and deposits is stable.” This has been countered by HochTief who have refused to continue work on the project fearing that these inspections have produced the incomplete or inaccurate results.
Pierre de Meuron presented the project to a packed auditorium in late January to bolster interest in the delayed scheme, clarifying the finer design points and wider symbolism with obvious passion. Despite the tumultuous journey of Elbphilharmonie, when asked if he would repeat the process, he replied without hesitation: “Yes, of course!”