Behind the Scenes at the Elbphilharmonie
Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg draws thousands of Germans and tourists with an interest in culture. The new cultural centre in the HafenCity metropolis in northern Germany not only boasts top class cultural experiences – there are also hidden pump performers in the corridors.
Subdued cello music rises from the Concert Hall stage towards the ceiling. It meanders slowly and melodically past light fixtures, cables and grids, before reaching our ear drums high up under the ceiling in Hamburg’s new cultural landmark: Elbphilharmonie. An impressive high-ceilinged building, where there is simply no place for second best when it comes to who and what is performing. We are quite close to the vaulted ceiling as we slowly – and as quietly as possible – make our way across the steel grey grid floor, which offers a view of the main stage. There are of five of us, on a guided tour behind the scenes. To look at pumps. Over 200 pumps and systems from Grundfos have been brought together in the impressive building, where their duties include maintaining a constant temperature and the correct humidity.
“They also contribute to a green profile for the concert hall. For example, there are lots of MAGNA3 and ALPHA2 pumps installed, keeping energy consumption down,” says Jörg Hartmann from SPIE Hartmann, a valued Grundfos partner, responsible for maintaining the pumps in the building.
Music and air quality
There are multiple air conditioning systems under the foil-clad ceiling. And they all proudly display our trademark splash of red. They work tirelessly to maintain the right temperatures in the building, so the many concert-goers have a wonderful experience on that score also. But just as importantly, the stable temperatures and carefully balanced humidity ensure the instruments have the right conditions and are ready to produce the right sound.
“Our most important task is to ensure the best conditions for the instruments. We know that fluctuations can cause the sound of the instruments to change. We therefore have to always make sure that everything is just as it should be. We are greatly assisted in this by our Grundfos equipment,” explains Oliver Horn. Oliver is an employee of SPIE Hartmann, but spends his days at Elbphilharmonie, where he takes care of the air conditioning and heating systems, among other duties.
Nothing related to sound is left to chance in the hall. For example, there is a maximum distance of 30 metres from the spectator to the orchestra in the large hall, which can seat 2,100 concert guests. This means that everyone in the audience will have a musical experience at the highest level, no matter where they are seated.
Guarantor of quality
We are roaming up and down between the 18 floors of Elbphilharmonie in our search for pumps. Along the way, our German guides pause at the various units and note the importance of reliable top class performance being delivered.
“We take great pride in everything functioning as it should. This is naturally also expected from an iconic venue like Elbphilharmonie. We are therefore pleased that the pumps are as reliable as they are, and that we have accumulated a great understanding of the pumps through our long-standing partnership with Grundfos, so we can find the right solutions if any challenges arise,” says Jörg Hartmann.
But it is not just the pumps that guarantee quality at the high end of the scale in the 110-metre-tall cultural centre. Everything has been viewed in a bigger context, from the quality hotel which is also a part of the building, to the visual experience visitors can enjoy when they take a walk approx. 37 metres above the ground and are treated to panoramic views of Hamburg.
On top of the Hamburg landmark, Jürgen Kiebach, our guide through the glass-clad jewel, points through a window and down towards the streets cutting across the Hamburg HafenCity quarter.
“The hall has drawn thousands of listeners and tourists since it opened. It is not unusual for there to be queues of inquisitive locals and tourists several hundred metres long, who visit to experience a concert, or simply enjoy the architecture,” he says as he gestures with his arm towards the city.
The building was completed in early 2017, after being in the works for almost 10 years. It now occupies a place of honour on the bank of the Elbe.