It may be seven years late and three times over budget, but Hamburg’s newly opened Elbphilharmonie concert hall warrants a standing ovation for its eye-catching architecture. The playful glass structure stands atop a historic brick warehouse on an island in the Elbe, marked by an undulating roof and a facade adorned with “melting” balconies, dented panels, and bubble-like protrusions. From the entrance, an 82-meter-long curved escalator leads visitors to the performance halls via a panorama window on the sixth floor, while the textured “white skin” in the main venue recalls the limestone surfaces of an ancient Greek theater. Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron made sure their design wasn’t just for musicians and concertgoers: the Westin Hamburg moved into the same building last November, and a public viewing platform between the old and new structures makes for a unique aerie on the reinvented port district known as HafenCity.
This article originally appeared in the February/March 2017 print issue of DestinAsian magazine (“Raising the Roof”).