Photo: Frans van der Heijden.
The Philharmonic will finally open at the beginning of 2017. This pharaonic project by the Swiss architects responsible for the Tate Modern in London, is organised around concert halls, public spaces and a hotel. It sits atop an old brick warehouse on the docks, on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. But it’s the shimmering façade that catches the gaze and stirs desire. It reigns majestically over the river like a glass island. Since the first sketches were released at the turn of the 21st century, much has been said and written about this ambitious enterprise, as well as its mounting costs and delays. But still more secrets surround the Elbphilharmonie.
During a private visit organised by the German entrepreneur Frank Gerhard Schmidt, another side to this building is revealed. While the main concert hall – still being built – is fascinating with its honeycomb structures giving the impression of being within a colossal beehive, the real surprise comes with the penthouses and private apartments, unveiled for the first time. They offer breath-taking views over Herzog & de Meuron's splendid architecture, the sinuous forms of their œuvre and the facade composed of 1100 glass elements. From the 11th to the top floor, there's a unique panorama over the river and the town's impressive churches. Facing the urban sprawl of Hamburg, the building is airy and organic. "Living within an architectural masterpiece, in the heart of a Philharmonic even, is a unique experience," explains Kate Hume, the celebrated interior designer who's been working on the project for the last year. "We're addressing music lovers, but also those seeking somewhere calm with big skies, or an ideal place to hang works of art or design, the views of which will evolve throughout the day, as the sun moves, finishing its trajectory opposite the apartments in a magical display." The windows stretch over 30 meters rendering these gem-like abodes veritable nests in the sky. A contemporary Olympus for music-loving gods...
By Thibaut Wychowanok