Herzog & de Meuron
Since its recent grand opening, up to 16,000 visitors are drawn to the Plaza in Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie every single day. Nevertheless, the space, which is perched just 37 meters above the Elbe River and boasts more than 1,000 m2 of floor space, is pleasantly quiet and it is easy to perfectly understand what anyone talking to you from across the table is saying. This achievement is attributed to the one-of-a-kind, high performance acoustic ceilings developed by BASWA acoustic AG, a company from central Switzerland.
Inside Hamburg’s new landmark, you do not have to leave the excellent acoustics behind once you exit the grand auditorium. Thanks to the acoustic and thermal acoustic systems developed by BASWA, the sound quality is equally high in virtually all publicly accessible areas of the Elbphilharmonie.
Besides the Plaza, which is open to the public and offers fantastic views of the historic Speicherstadt and the Elbe River, BASWA acoustic ceilings have also been installed in the surrounding areas, such as Europe’s longest escalator, which stretches across 80 meters; the concert hall foyer, which offers 3,200 m2 of floor space spread across six floors; and some of the smaller concert halls, the VIP lounge, the Sky Foyer, parts of the backstage areas and the ticket booths.
The installation in the foyer, which is connected to the glass façade by an alcove, is an absolute masterpiece from a technical perspective. Alexander Schlappa, BASWA’s project manager comments: "Creating the type of curvatures that stretch across several hundreds of meters at the Elbphilharmonie and attaining the look of a homogenous surface – that’s a huge challenge. The integration of hundreds of glass sequins in the entrance and ticket booth areas was an equally demanding job." When BASWA encounters these types of projects, it benefits from the fact that it is more than just the global market leader in curved and flat acoustic surfaces. The material that makes this possible is a moldable system consisting of ceiling stucco made of fine marble sand, which has outstanding sound absorption and heat conducting characteristics. Moreover, it is non-flammable.
The VIPs who attend events at this new mecca for concertgoers can experience a very special luxury in the thermal acoustic ceiling that has been installed in the VIP lounge. Fine capillaries have been integrated into the sound absorbing system, in which water circulates without generating any noise whatsoever. As a result, only a minimum amount of energy is needed to heat and cool the room, which ensures that sound and room climate is always perfectly agreeable. BASWA’s versatile design options also made it possible to add glimmering mica particles to the champagne colored acoustic ceiling. According to Schlappa, their glimmer effect, in combination with the lighting, creates a “stunningly luxurious atmosphere”.
These and other innovations that have not been copied by others to date have won the family owned and operated firm coveted awards in various countries, such as the first materialPREIS sponsored by the Raumprobe in Germany; the Décibel d’Or in France and the Architizer A+ Jury Award in the United States, as well as a nomination for the Swiss Technology Award 2016. Eric Sulzer, the CEO of the company, who is also the son of the inventor, is confident and convinced that “thanks to ongoing innovation, perfect product quality and close relationships with our customers, we will be able to continue to distinguish ourselves from our international competitors in the future.”
The Elbphilharmonie, which boasts a total of more than 8,000 m2 of BASWA ceilings as well as areas beneath stairwells that had to be equipped with their high performance acoustic absorption, is one of many private properties and world famous buildings where BASWA acoustic systems can be found- including the White House in Washington DC and the Federal Building in Bern. CEO Sulzer has an explanation for the popularity of the acoustic ceilings from Baldegg: “We know that we have done a great job when we hear people are raving about the amazing sound in a room and cannot spot the acoustic treatment.” Now BASWA is receiving exactly this type of feedback from Hamburg: Visitors who tour Hamburg’s new landmark are surprised and tell the operator that they observed clear acoustic differences between the individual rooms and that they are wondering how this is possible. The answer: Acoustic surfaces from BASWA.