jueves, 19 de enero de 2017



The Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, which opens its doors to the public on Wednesday.CreditFabian Bimmer/Reuters

HAMBURG — Finally complete, the Elbphilharmonie here may not immediately prompt thoughts of Fabergé eggs: The 18-story glass box with a concert hall inside sits bluntly atop an eight-story former cocoa warehouse on the Elbe River, overlooking the harbor.
But what the 26-story piggyback structure has in common with the jeweled eggs exchanged by the Russian imperial family is that its shell holds an unexpected world inside, a landscape in a box: Curving staircases cascade between and around a recital chamber and a 2,100-seat concert hall. Like rings inside an onion, the halls are wrapped by a hotel and a condominium complex. Only its roofscape of peaks and valleys hints at a roiling inner life.

Somewhat outside the city center, at a hinge point on a peninsula where the city pivots to the harbor, a huge waterfront depot for cocoa beans was built in the mid-1960s. Though not obvious historic treasures, Brutalist buildings of this generation are gaining respect, and the Swiss architects of the Philharmonie, Herzog & de Meuron, used this one as their podium. Its outlines determined the four corners of their own glass structure above.
“We just continued the box up,” Ascan Mergenthaler, the project architect, said on a recent visit. Also the architects of the Tate Modern in London and its recent addition, Herzog & de Meuron has a history of adapting old industrial structures.
Dimensionally, the old warehouse did not suit its new use as a parking garage, and the lingering smells of cocoa oil saturated the concrete. The architects hollowed out the shell and refitted the interior, which means that people entering from the street have to ascend eight floors.
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The architects trick visitors into the daunting climb by changing the subject with a fun house of surprising events. The entrance leads past a decorative digital wall to a long ride on an escalator through a tunnel spotted with mirrored discs. Visitors land at a wide terrace, offering a vista of Hamburg’s forest of gantries and cranes in a port now sized for supertankers. Another escalator leads to an outdoor piazza, with views to the harbor on one side, and to this city of church spires on the other. The piazza marks the start of a modern version of the Spanish Steps in Rome: Terraced stairways flow up and through the upper floors.
Inside the auditorium, the architects stacked the seating in steep tiers that surround the orchestra, establishing an unusual proximity to the stage. The former chief conductor of the NDR Philharmonie Orchestra, Christoph von Dohnanyi, “told us that he likes to feel the breath of the audience on his neck,” Mr. Mergenthaler said. An acoustic umbrella shaped like the top of a tagine bowl hovers over the orchestra under the hall’s tentlike ceiling. The sound is moderated by 10,000 digitally milled acoustic wall panels of varying depths and textures.
The Hamburg skyline is still defined by the steeples of its old churches, but its expanding map is secular. The Philharmonic now anchors one end of the city’s ambitious urban development, literally and figuratively elevating the role of music and culture to something sacred in a port city whose raison d’être has always been commerce. With the opacity of a Fabergé egg, the design heightens the sense of secrets inside, contributing to the feeling of a building with a higher purpose.


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