A perfect ‘emergenc solution’ for a total work of art  

The north corridor of the Elbphilharmonie is the building’s main escape route. To obtain an operating licence, a voice alarm system must be installed in this category of building. To ensure the necessary speech intelligibility in an emergency, a certain level of reverberation must not be exceeded. This is only possible with the help of sound absorbers that also fit into the architectural concept. And in the case of the ‘Elphi’, this was only possible with DEKOZELL. 

At a glance

Project:31 ceiling ovals 180 x 250 cm 
Surface Coating:120 m²
Architect:Herzog & de Meuron
Client:HOCHTIEF Infrastructure

The challenge

The Elbphilharmonie is breathtaking architecture, excellent acoustics, and a unique location. The Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron have managed to revitalise the traditional brick base in an incredible way and to place the concert hall on top as a sparkling jewel. The architects wanted to preserve as much of the character of the original Kaispeicher A as possible, especially in the north corridor of the Elbphilharmonie.

The new was to be a deliberate contrast to the old, but the new was to be executed with even more perfection. The sharp-edged design of the outer edges of the ceiling ovals was a design element that the architects did not want to do without. With conventional smooth, mineral-based acoustic plasters, however, such an edge is only possible with a plaster profile. Particularly with curves, however, such a profile almost inevitably leads to very round, bulging edge geometries. However, no acoustic plaster manufacturer was prepared to build the ovals without an edge profile.

The solution

In the end, HOCHTIEF Infrastructure persuaded us to take on the job. It was the first lighthouse project in which we used our now so successful acoustic spray filler. Using our DEKOZELL SYSTEM ROBUST, we cut the ovals as a substructure on site as individual parts and glued them directly to the raw concrete ceilings using the corresponding flexible mortar and laser marking.  

The cracks between the panels were filled with DEKOZELL AKUSTIK-SPRITZSPACHTEL. Then the 5cm thick edge of the panels was simply ‘pre-lined’ by hand with acoustic filler in several layers. The actual surface was only coated once the filler was almost 1 cm thick at the edges. Once everything was dry, the actual perfection was created by sanding. 

Freehand, without any profiles, over a quarter of a kilometre of oval outer corners with an absolutely sharp-edged appearance were created. All 31 sails look identical, as if they had already been taken out of the box and hung up. Thanks to the firm mineral bonding as individual panels to the substrate, the ovals remain firmly attached to the ceiling even in the event of fire and when exposed to water from the sprinkler system. 

The result

After all the ovals had long since been completed, someone realised that an electrically illuminated sign should be mounted on five of the ovals – with the power cable running invisibly into the oval, of course. Okay. Without further ado, slots were milled into the finished (!) acoustic plaster surface, the cables inserted and filled. And the five areas were partially re-coated. If you go into the north corridor today, you can easily find the five sails with the signs. But there is no visible repair.

Due to the constant transport of building materials through the north corridor, 18 damaged ovals accumulated during the construction phase. With conventional acoustic plaster, this would have been a total visual loss. With DEKOZELL and just half a day’s rework twice, all the damage was partially and completely invisibly repaired. Go and look for the 18 damaged areas – you won’t find any of the partial repairs. 

The soiling that has appeared on the white acoustic plaster over the years is also minimal. At some point, someone will simply have to take a dry eraser sponge made of melamine resin foam and polish the sails. That’s how easy it would be to get everything as fresh as the day it opened. 


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