Dezeen Magazine

Herzog & de Meuron's Elbphilharmonie Hamburg announces completion in lights

Herzog & de Meuron's long-delayed Hamburg concert hall has announced its completion to the city in huge illuminated letters.

On the evening of Monday 31 October, the facade of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg was lit up to spell out "FERTIG" – German for "COMPLETED" – marking the end of a 10-year construction period.

On the same day, construction company Hochtief handed the building over to the City of Hamburg. Its first concert is scheduled for 11 January 2017, but it will open to its first guests this weekend.

Switzerland-based Herzog & de Meuron renovated a 1960s warehouse by Hamburg architect Werner Kallmorgen to create the concert hall, which is located beside Hamburg's Elbe river.

A photo posted by Kevin Hackert (@kevin.hackert) on

The project was originally projected to cost just €77 million (£60 million) but, thanks to construction issues and spiralling costs, the most recently reported estimate was €789 million (£617 million) – more than 10 times as much.

Herzog & de Meuron even presented the project at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale to demonstrate how cost inflation can affect the architectural industry.

Photograph by Sophie Wolter

The design centres around a new glazed upper section added above the original brick walls, which allowed the creation of three concert halls, including the main 2,150-seat auditorium.

Curved windows bulge out from the new glass walls, which are divided up into a grid of rectangular panels. Each panel can be illuminated individually – which is how the large glowing letters were created.


Herzog & de Meuron designed an elevated 4,000-square-metre plaza to accompany the building, which also opens this week. Raised up by 30 metres, it will offer views across the city's harbour and skyline.

Management company HamburgMusik will take over the running of the Elbphilharmonie complex on 5 November 2016, including the plaza, the restaurants, cafe and bars, and a new hotel.

Photography is by Maxim Schulz, apart from where otherwise indicated.