10k Sheets of Gypsum in new Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg

Finally ended construction of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg. While construction cranes left, acoustical and organ Builder taken work over the scepter. Currently 4765 organ pipes are assembled into one magnificent instrument. The acoustics of the House is breathtaking. At the opening concert, it will be present the team of engineers responsible for construction and supervision of all project..

The Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, Germany on the former Kaispeicher A is a cathedral of the music. More elaborate should be have been filed worldwide barely on the acoustics of a concert hall. In addition to the Special geometry of the concert hall, whose audience ranks are built along the lines of a vineyard with many terraces around the Orchestra, and the materials used, the surface structure, the so called “white skin”, is unique.

Philharmonic Hall Hamburg

One million shell-shaped recesses a giant funnel on the ceiling

The “white skin” is an individual: the approximately 6000 m2 large wall and ceiling covering is from about 10,000 gypsum fibre boards with a total weight of 226 t. “The 10,000 sheets of gypsum and paper, weighing in average 70 kg each had to find their place in the complex under construction to add to the impressive whole”. Beate Cornils supervised the assembly as project manager (Hochtief Construction Group).

gypsum and paper acoustics

The surface in the great Hall is made of gypsum and paper to ensure excellent acoustics at every seat. Photo: Hochtief Construction Group.

It’s a confusing game of deception of light and shadow, that left about one million shells milled valleys in the plates with a variable depth between 5 mm to 90 mm in the eye of the beholder. Of course in the eye, the huge funnel falls in the middle of a concert hall, which hangs from the ceiling and serves as a reflector and to perfectly distribute the music in the room.

You must be really interested to see how the connection from funnel and the impressive surface effect. After all, the engineers promise that the acoustics of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall is to be not only one of the best in the world, but also every seat is designed to provide an unforgettable listening experience.

This special surface structure of walls and ceilings has developed the Swiss architectural firm Herzog & de Meuron through detailed material research in close cooperation with the Japanese acoustical Yasuhisa Toyota of Nagata and fire protection experts.

Spectators sits on the terraces of the vineyard around the Orchestra

Up to 2100 viewers sit after the opening of the numerous terraces on different levels like in a vineyard. The Orchestra sits centrally in the area such as the Kölner Philharmonie. But the spectator stands in the district not symmetrical revolve around the Orchestra. The terraces take time in a wide arc around the Orchestra, then there are small terraces, protrusions, smaller balconies.

Elbe Philharmonic Hall
Large wall and ceiling cladding is approximately 6000 m2 from about 10,000 gypsum fibre boards with a total weight of 226 t. The installation in last year was very expensive. To guarantee an excellent acoustics the Elbe Philharmonic Hall had to reach for the best people, materials and a lot of patience. Photo: Elbe Philharmonic Hall

And yet, every listener will sit away more than 30 m from the conductor. 362 springs were used to acoustically decoupled the concert hall in the building. Nothing must disturb the ears when the Symphony Orchestra plays or crescendo is the powerful organ to the final. This organ is now incorporated into the Cathedral of music.

From the outside, the Elbe Philharmonic Hall looks like already finished since the cranes disappeared and reflected facade of the Elbe River. And seems to be almost forgotten the construction scandal surrounding this fantastic building, was built-in the Decade and that has become so much more expensive than planned.

Organs are designed and build by expert Philipp KLAIS.

To create the artwork from 4765 organ pipes was possible because of founded in 1882 (Bonn) Organ Manufactory KLAIS. Philipp Caspar Andreas KLAIS born 1967 in Bonn now is leading the fourth generation of manufacturers. It is so present a wealth of experience in philharmonic organ building that breath is taken away, skin crawling and we remain speechless. What was probably decisive for the contract for the construction of this spectacular organ through the small factory with 65 employees in the Bonn Cologne road, which is one of the world’s most prestigious organ factories.

“This is a not random place for an organ Builder,” says KLAIS. Because the Cologne Street is the extension of the Bonngasse, where Ludwig van Beethoven was born and played his first piano compositions.

The organ great Hall has 14 meters high

The Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall organ is a real stunner. 69 stops and weighs about 25 tons. All the ceiling rises on 14 m high on four integrated levels. The organ pipes are so small to fit on a finger nail, and times so big that they protrude over the wall of a House. The largest pipe is 10 meters high and produces a tone with only 16 vibrations per second. Since the lower threshold stands at approximately 20 vibrations, one more can feel these tones so KLAIS hearing.

Elbe Philharmonic Hall
Cut-out of the great Hall in the Elbe Philharmonic Hall: a part of the organ, that consists of 4765 pipes can clearly be seen left in the background. These are distributed on four terraces in the area and are in part directly in addition to the seats. Photo: Herzog & de Meuron

The smallest pipe is just 11 mm long and produces a tone with 15,600 vibrations per second. This is the upper audibility. This means: this organ produces not only an incredible sound image, she can also sense and feel.

The Hamburg may be curious as it sounds when it is played at the opening concert in 11 January 2017 for the first time to the public.

There are 4385 pipes made of Tin, some dumb jewelry pipes to the optical effect and 380 pipes made of wood. In KLAIS uses not any wood. The oak is about 200 years old and was stored again for several years in the organ factory in Bonn.

The wood for the pipes is struck in the winter and the waning Moon

“The wood storage is crucial,” explains KLAIS. “In addition to the tradition that we respect, to cut down the trees, in the winter the phases of the Moon, even more important, the Moon stands, must be considered, because we have then later fewer problems with pests”,KLAIS said to the newspaper “Die Welt”.

As is the organ not in one place, but the pipes among the spectators are distributed, KLAIS has covered each pipe with a special lacquer, so that you can touch the pipes. It was considerably more work to establish the mechanical, wooden connections between each pipe and the console of the organ. The connections add up to 700 m.

A particularly difficult task, which requires much experience, was also the decision to correct dimension of the organ pipes. Because the Philharmonic is a huge concert hall. Play just loud, how can a musician, is more complicated in an organ. And therefore KLAIS had to consider well previously and calculate how fit the pipes into the room.

The last organ whistle will arrive to Hamburg in June

And how does the organ travel to Hamburg? Of course in the truck. The first was in February from Bonn , in June the last whistle will participate in the Hanseatic City. KLAIS will breathe then, if each pipe is in place, the mechanics and the wind machines do their service. KLAIS will be sure excited if he play the first notes on the new hamburger organs.