Arrangement for a synthesis of the Arts - Elbphilharmonie concert in Hamburg

Though a controversial talking point during construction, it has become a magnificent new landmark for the Hanseatic city since completion – the  lbphilharmonie concert hall is an architectural and cultural beacon that shines far beyond Hamburg's city limits.

 

The site in Hamburg's redeveloped harbor area is steeped in history: as of 1875, it housed what was then the city's largest warehouse, complete with neogothic bell tower. After this building had been destroyed during the Second World War, a  new warehouse, the "Kaispeicher A", was built on the same spot. The plain brick building was used to store tobacco, cocoa and tea. As containers came to be  increasingly used for sea freight shipments, both the warehouse and the old  general cargo dock became obsolete. As a result, from the 1990s until now, the warehouse largely stood vacant.

 

After a string of redevelopment proposals had  come to nothing, the charming brick building was finally enlisted to serve as a massive podium for the Elbphilharmonie concert hall.

 

 

A wavy outline sitting atop the quayside warehouse

The spectacular design for the "Hamburg Philharmonic" was crafted by Swiss  architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron. The visionary idea of a wavy outline sitting atop the quayside warehouse quickly sparked enthusiasm.

 

The boldly curvilinear roof, as the Elbphilharmonie's signature feature, has now added an  enchanting and unmistakable silhouette to Hamburg's harbor skyline. The   foundation - stone - laying ceremony in April 2007 marked the start of an elaborate work program that lasted almost ten years. An important contribution to the  success of Hamburg's new showpiece building was made by the many construction chemical products and system solutions of Sika Germany that were specified by construction group HOCHTIEF.

 

 

Start on site: strip-out and refurbishment of existing warehouse

The first step involved stripping back the existing warehouse to its historic landmark brick facade. To carry the total weight of the Elbphilharmonie – running to some
200,000 t – the warehouse foundations needed strengthening through the  addition of 650 to the existing 1,000-plus reinforced-concrete piles.

 

The warehouse levels now accommodate the parking areas and several restaurants as well as rehearsal and storage spaces for the concert hall. Forming the interface between restored warehouse and new-build component is the approx. 3,100 m² Plaza, which offers a stunning 360° panorama. This public viewing deck is accessed  via an extraordinary, 82-m-long escalator, which leads from the eastern entrance  portal through the entire building to the western front, where it reaches a height of 37 m. The journey through the white, illuminated tunnel vault is, in itself, a  remarkable experience.

 

 

Sika concrete technologies: admixtures for challenging concrete structures

The spacious Plaza foyer is dominated by large ceiling vaults and inclined concrete columns. Due to the magnitude of the loads permanently supported by the  freestanding columns, these are made from C80/95-grade high-strength concrete. To optimize concrete strength and durability, Sika supplied a total of 40t of theultra-fine pozzolanic concrete additive Sika® Silicoll SL.

 

 

Sika® Viscocrete® ready-mix concrete superplasticizer for complex  operations

The most stringent (class 4) requirements were placed on the fair-faced concrete in the stairwells and elevator shafts. The universal Sika® Viscocrete® ready-mix concrete superplasticizer was specified for many of the complex concreting operations.

 

Used for over 63,000 m³ of material, it improved flow properties and lengthened workability, even at higher concrete temperatures, while also increasing concrete strength.

 

 

Sika corrosion protection: robust steel protection for stairways and loading hatches

Curved sculptural stairways opening off the Plaza lead to the centerpiece of the Elbphilharmonie: one of the acoustically best concert auditoria in the world. Required to offer long-term abrasion and impact resistance, the steel stair balustrades were provided with a robust anti-corrosive finish using the SikaCor® EG system.

 

The combination of two-pack priming and intermediate coats based on epoxy resin / micaceous iron oxide and polyurethane top coat ensures high chalking resistance and color retention.

 

In the event – given that the coating initially applied to the balustrade had  corroded within a short space of time – Sika turned up right on time with the ideal solution.

 

 

Sika construction bonding and sealing: scintillating play of light on glass facade

The over 70-m-high glass assembly fronting the Elbphilharmonie is reminiscent of a giant, shimmering, blue crystal. Sporting 1,100 window units, the glass facade covers a total area of around 20,500 m². The elaborately curved, one-off windows are fitted with special reflectors that deliver an ever-changing choreography of mirrored sunlight, sky hues and harbor lights. The reflective function also prevents the incident solar radiation from heating up the building. Some of the windows between the twelfth and seventeenth stories feature large recesses shaped like gigantic tuning forks.

 

 

Weatherresistant adhesives and sealants withstand Hamburg`s climate

The adhesives and sealants used for the glazing are exposed to the typically harsh Hamburg climate of alternating sunshine, rain, storms and gale-force winds. The project team thus opted for the use of Sikasil® SG-500 two-part structural silicone adhesive and Sikasil® IG-25 HM Plus two-part silicone sealant for fabrication of the individual glass units. In addition to the adhesives and sealants for the glass facade, Sika also supplied sealant solutions for the floor joints in the break rooms and stairwells.

 

 

Sika roof waterproofing: 800 t of elegance

Structurally, the Elbphilharmonie's column-free Grand Hall takes the form of an  intricate steel frame with steel nodes. This construction, comprising a star-shaped  arrangement  of 11 steel truss units, each up to 25 m wide and weighing up to 40 tonnes, is concealed by the curved lines and pointed tips of the roof. The 6,200  m² roof area is made up of eight concave surfaces resting on approx. 1,000  individually  bent steel beams. These create the wavy geometry and lend the roof silhouette its sweeping elegance. The lowest point in the roofscape is 74 m and the highest point some 110 m above ground level. Trapezoidal steel sheeting, installed at inclinations of up to 55°, spans between the steel beams.

 

To ensure absolutely trouble-free and, above all, durable performance, the waterproofing solution for the imposing roof assembly was required to meet the most stringent demands. The waves and tips of the roof and the "paillette" covering installed as the final step posed an awkward challenge that was  successfully mastered through the use of Sika Germany's system solutions.

 

The steeply sloping trapezoidal steel sheeting was covered with Sarnavap® 5000 E self-adhesive vapor barriers. These, in turn, were overlaid by double-layer mineral-fiber insulation with a total thickness of 190 mm. Due to the, in places,  extremely steep roof inclination, the design team opted to use the 2 mm thick Sarnafil® TS 77-20 E multi-layer polymeric membrane, based on flexible polyolefin. This is particularly suitable for mechanically fastened roofs with pitches exceeding 20° while offering enhanced fire protection. The individual membrane sheets were mechanically spot-fixed at the overlaps using the Sika® Sarnafast system, purpose-developed for fastening to trapezoidal steel profiles. Special washers were used in conjunction with the Sarnafast SF 4.8 self-drilling, hardened carbon steel fasteners.

 

 

Roof supports 5,800 white-coated "paillettes"

This roof assembly then served as the base for tubular supports to carry the 5,800 white-coated, round, perforated aluminum-sheet "paillettes". Up to 110cm in diameter, these fulfil a purely aesthetic purpose. During installation of the roof membrane, provision thus had to be made for several thousand penetrations. The resulting junctions were formed with Sarnafil® T galvanized-steel flashings. The upper faces of these units are laminated with Sarnafil® TG 66-18 FPO membranes, thereby allowing homogeneous welding with the TS 77-20 E roof membrane.

 

 

Watertightness at the rooftop

With the underlying roof membrane no longer accessible after fixing and sealing of the paillettes, it was essential for the installed materials to guarantee absolute
watertightness and durability. Hence the need for wide-ranging tests, which included a leakage test and a fire test specifically for the action of fireworks, a vacuum box test and manual wind suction resistance certification for 600 kg/m².

 

 

The total roof weld is around 15 km

In selectingmaterials, due allowance was also made for specific site factors. These included the emissions from cruise ships in the harbor and the fluctuating weather conditions. Continuous seam inspections were required and even the welding equipment needed optimizing for use with the existing roof inclinations. The total length of the weld seams incorporated on the Elbphilharmonie roof runs to 15 km.

 

 

A Gesamtkunstwerk in every sense

On this prestigious project, the in-depth technical expertise offered by Sika Germany, as a single-source provider of products and systems solutions in many fields of construction, was complemented by comprehensive consultancy services. The Elbphilharmonie is, after all, no ordinary building, but a Gesamtkunstwerk–a total work of art – that poses exceptional architectural, design and construction challenges. Both the client and construction teams were duly impressed by the convincing solutions delivered by Sika, as construction chemicals specialist, for all required applications.