Contribution to La Biennale di Venezia. 13. Mostra Internazionale di Architettura: Common Ground
Herzog & de Meuron. Elbphilharmonie - The construction site as a common ground of diverging interests.
La Biennale di Venezia, Arsenale Corderie, Venice, Italy
Exhibition 29 August - 25 November 2012

The history of the Elbphilharmonie is an almost incredible example of a bottom-up democratic project, informed with euphoric energy, driven by architectural beauty, cultural-political vision, and civic pride. This energy exhausted itself in the face of exploding building costs and seemingly endless prolonged construction, culminating in a temporary building stop in November 2011. The large-scale construction site increasingly mutated into a battlefield involving the three main players: the client (the City of Hamburg, and its representative ReGe), the general contractor, and the architect/general planner. Ideally, the construction site of every building project is a platform of interaction that engages these three main forces; in this case, it relentlessly exposed conflicting interests and requirements. The story of the Elbphilharmonie provides, as an example, an insight into the extremes that mark the reality of planning and building today.

Our installation for the Biennale presents the project without taking a stand or attempting to analyze the complexities of its evolution. The only comments provided are uncensored press reports, demonstrating that this project has been a focus of public interest and ongoing debate for years. The installation includes representations of the complex building services; camera shots walking through the construction site; and large-scale models, whose spatial and physical presence represent what the architects wished and still wish to foreground: architecture.
Herzog & de Meuron, August 2012


Project Summary
The Elbphilharmonie Hamburg is situated on top of the Kaispeicher A, a former warehouse in Hamburg’s HafenCity that marks a prominent location which was known, but not accessible to the public. The robust, almost archaic architecture of the Kaispeicher provides a surprisingly ideal counterpart for the more refined world of the Philharmonic, which includes new concert halls, apartments, restaurants, and a hotel. This cultural and residential complex is lifted above the existing building, to create a new public plaza with an expansive topography and panoramic views of both the city and the harbour.

Installation Components
MO_1 Public Escalator
1:20 scale working model, 520 x 97 x 130 cm, Wood, expanded polystyrene and LED lights, 2012.

MO_2 Public Plaza
1:20 scale working model, 210 x 350 x 280 cm, Wood and expanded polystyrene, 2012.

MO_3 Main Concert Hall
1:20 scale working model, 270 x 220 x 250 cm, Wood and expanded polystyrene, 2012.

AV_1 Technical Building Services
Digital 3D model of the Main Concert Hall, Computer animation, 2012.

AV_2 Performances
“Improvisation” in the Main Concert Hall, performed on bassoon by Ingrid Hutter of Junge Deutsche Philharmonie, produced by Felix Meschede for Orchester 3.0 as part of Elbphilharmonie Konzerte 2011/2012, Video recorded on 29 March 2012, Courtesy of HamburgMusik. “Sequenza VIII” (1976) in the Main Concert Hall, composed by Luciano Berio, performed on violin by Barbara Bultmann of Ensemble Resonanz, Video recorded on 5 July 2012, Courtesy of ZDF/Arte and YSO Film.

AV_3 Views
Three walk-throughs of the construction site, Escalator to Plaza to Main Concert Hall, running time 7:30 min, Plaza to Main Concert Hall Balconies, running time 6:00 min, Plaza to Recital Hall to Plaza, running time 3:00 min, Videos recorded on 1 June 2012, Camera and post-production by Jean de Meuron and Tim Lüdin.

AV_4 People
List of project collaborators in alphabetical order, 2003-2012, running time 8:20 min, 2012.

CI_1 Projection
“230_CI_0604_002_WestTag.jpg” digital rendering, 2006.

NC_1 Clippings
Newspaper reproductions, 2003-2012, Flatbed print on paper-based corrugated honeycomb boards, Newspaper sources: Axel Springer AG: Berlin. Bild. 2007-2012; Axel Springer AG: Berlin. Die Welt. 2003, 2005-2006, 2009, 2011-2012; Axel Springer AG: Berlin. Welt am Sonntag. 2009, 2010-2012; Axel Springer AG: Hamburg. Hamburger Abendblatt. 2003-2012; Axel Springer Schweiz AG: Zürich. Handelszeitung. 2012; BV Deutsche Zeitungsholding: Berlin. Hamburger Morgenpost. 2003; Taz, Die Tageszeitung Verlagsgenossenschaft eG: Berlin. Die Tageszeitung. 2005, 2012; Druck- und Verlagshaus Frankfurt am Main: Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurter Rundschau. 2012; F.A.Z. GmbH: Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 2009-2011; F.A.Z. GmbH: Frankfurt am Main. Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung. 2010, 2012; Gruner + Jahr AG & Co. KG: Hamburg. Financial Times Deutschland. 2010, 2012; Neue Zürcher Zeitung AG: Zürich. Neue Zürcher Zeitung. 2003; Süddeutscher Verlag: München. Süddeutsche Zeitung. 2003, 2005, 2010; Verlagsgruppe Handelsblatt: Düsseldorf. Handelsblatt. 2010; Zeitverlag Gerd Bucerius: Hamburg. Die Zeit. 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2010.



William Menking: Welcome to Common Ground.
In: Carlo Olmo (Ed.). Il Giornale dell'Architettura. with the Architect's Newspaper. 13ma Biennale di Architettura di Venezia. Turin, Umberto Allemandi & C. spa, 27.08.2012. pp. 1-4.

Christoph Heim: Auf der Suche nach dem Verbindenden. David Chipperfields Architekturbiennale ist ein Schaulaufen der Schweizer Architektur geworden.
In: Markus Somm (Ed.). Basler Zeitung. Die Zeitung der Nordwestschweiz. Basel, Basler Zeitung, 29.08.2012. pp. 35-36.

Laura Weissmüller: Hanteln stemmen in der Hochhausruine.
In: Süddeutsche Zeitung. Neueste Nachrichten aus Politik, Kultur, Wirtschaft und Sport. Munich, Süddeutsche Zeitung GmbH, 30.08.2012. p. 11.

Edwin Heathcote: Construction and Society. Edwin Heathcote on a reflective Mood at the Venice Architecture Biennale.
In: Financial Times. London, The Financial Times Ltd, 01.09.2012. p. 16.

Rowan Moore: Venice Architecture Biennale. Review.
In: The Observer. London, Guardian News and Media Lt, 02.09.2012.

Frédéric Edelmann: Les bâtisseurs au temps des catastrophes.
In: Le Monde. Paris, Société éditrice du Monde,10.09.2012.

Michael Kimmelman: Projects Without Architects Steal the Show.
In: The New York Times. New York, The New York Times Company, 11.09.2012.

Rahel Hartmann Schweizer: Patina, Pasticcio, Palimpsest, Patent.
In: Verlags-AG der akademischen technischen Vereine (Ed.). Tec 21. 13. Architekturbiennale. Vol. No. 42-43, Zurich, Verlags-AG der akademischen technischen Vereine, 12.10.2012. pp. 22-27.

Owen Pritchard: Elbphilharmonie Hamburg.
In: Christopher Turner (Ed.). Icon. Architecture Design Culture. Vol. No. 113, Epping Essex, Media 10 ltd., 11.2012. p. 62.