TROX has provided air quality, air comfort and acoustical comfort systems to the Elbphilharmonie concert hall in Hamburg, which opened its doors to the public, earlier in the year. Matthias Kasprowicz, Regional Managing Director of TROX, spoke with Climate Control Middle East on the project and how, among other features, TROX was able to minimise unwanted sound at the venue.
Designed by Jacques Herzog and Pierre Meuron, the venue is home to two concert halls, a smaller hall with a capacity of 550, and a Grand Hall, that can house up to 2,100 people. “The project was, indeed, a major challenge,“ said Kasprowicz,“and was handled by my colleagues in TROX Germany. The aim was to prevent visitors from feeling or seeing the room air conditioning system – and under no circumstances were they supposed to hear it.“
Contractors chose the fire protection and ventilation technology products from TROX, he said. The company installed around 400 fire dampers and around 90 smoke dampers in the periphery of the large concert hall as well as swirl and slot diffusers, which he said, provide silent air supply. To manage the air distribution, TROX supplied irs Varycontrol controllers.
Touching on the challenges the company faced, Kasprowicz said that the Grand Hall was constructed on the basis of the vineyard principle. To address the peculiarities associated with this, he said a plywood model of the hall was constructed, incorporating 2,000 little dolls dressed in felt garments. “Tiny caps were used to simulate hair,” he said. “Every element was precisely recreated on a 1:10 scale – including the wall structure, flooring and reflectors.”
Based on this work, he said, 10,000 wall and ceiling panels were developed using highly compressed material made from gypsum and waste paper. “Individual reliefs, created on a computer, were milled into the surfaces of the panels and indentations incorporated into them,” he explained. “The irregular faces that are the result of this, disperse the sound in every direction and distribute it evenly throughout the room – so that one reflection is multiplied into several, and the echo effect disappears, as a result.”
Kasprowicz emphasised that the innovative wall elements weigh between 35 and 200 kilograms, making them heavy enough to reverberate bass tones in the hall. “Not only that,” he said, “but they are also thick enough to absorb sound from the ventilation ducts, behind them.”
The rows of audience seating, he explained, are separated by wood panelling that conceal 10 centimetres of concrete. “This ensures that the frequencies of even the low-pitched instruments are reflected into the hall,” he said. “The stage itself acts as an amplifier by absorbing vibrations, particularly from instruments, such as cellos and double basses.” This design, he added, ensures that the overall effect is one of a “warm sound”.