The Elbphilharmonie was planned with the objective of creating a new city landmark and a ‘cultural lighthouse for all citizens’. The impressive building is home to one of the top-ten concert halls in the world as well as a five-star hotel, approx. 45 condominiums and an underground car park. The Elbphilharmonie was completed after 15 years of planning and construction. The static testing for the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg was an engineering task of the first order, placing extremely high demands on the assessors.
WK Consult deliverables:
On-site structural testing and acceptance
approx. > EUR 700 million
The history of the Elbphilharmonie began as ‘Kaispeicher A’, a warehouse for coffee and cocoa. Just before the core was completely removed, the City of Hamburg commissioned WK Consult in 2007 to assess the complex building structure for its suitability for conversion into a concert venue and residential complex.
In this unparalleled project, virtually all known construction methods and materials were employed for the Elbphilharmonie. It often involved developing structures that had never been used in a similar fashion before. This also meant that the usual, strict approach to complying with building regulations was not always practicable. Project-specific interpretations were required, as many exceptional cases had not been taken into account in the relevant regulations for regular structural engineering. This approach could only succeed with extensive and intensive consultation with the supreme building authority.
PRESERVATION OF THE FACADE
An old harbour warehouse is the starting point for the new Elbphilharmonie. The complete core of the warehouse had to be removed while the outer shell was preserved. To achieve this, the approx. 30 m high existing facade had to be supported with bracing towers for the core removal and reconstruction of the inner structure.
EXTENSION OF THE EXISTING SUPPORT STRUCTURE
Kaispeicher A was reconstructed on 1,111 driven reinforced concrete piles between 1963 and 1966 according to a design by Werner Kallmorgen after being fully destroyed in World War II. The approx. 30 m high listed existing facade was supported with bracing towers for the core removal and reconstruction of the inner structure. In order to maintain the structural stability of the concert venue with an impressive total weight of 200,000 t, the existing support structure was retrofitted with 650 new in-situ concrete bored partial displacement piles in line with our assessment.
With its 2,150 seats, the concert hall, which is completely decoupled in terms of vibration technology from the rest of the building structure, required separate static testing as a complete spatial supporting structure made from steel.
The Elbphilharmonie glass facade suspended over Kaispeicher A comprises approx. 21,500 m2 of facade area and consists of 1,100 glass elements of different shapes and sizes.
Each plate is between 4 and 5 m wide and 5 m high, weighing an average of 0.6 t – about half the weight of a car. The glass must withstand enormous stress, such as gusts of up to 150 km/h. Moreover, the structural design and construction must take the selection of particularly lean frame construction with minimal edge cover into account.
The publicly accessible plaza level is located above the old warehouse. The outer edges of the plaza level are completely unsupported. To achieve this, the full load of the glass facade had to be redistributed over other complex static systems.