A shining jewel in the port of Hamburg: Zumtobel develops a cultured lighting solution for the Elbphilharmonie

A light concept from Zumtobel accentuates the magical atmosphere of the Elbe Philharmonic Hall in Hamburg, incorporating a tailored lighting solution that uniquely brings the heart of this spectacular concert hall to life.

The Elbphilharmonie (Elbe Philharmonic Hall) will be officially opened on 11th January 2017, offering visitors access to a unique new social and cultural centre in the heart of the Hafen City (harbour city). The building, designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, stands directly next to the River Elbe on more than 1000 reinforced concrete posts. The architectural concept blends old and new, with a spectacular marquee-like glass structure mounted on top of a former warehouse with a brick-facade. The building houses a philharmonic orchestra, a hotel, dining facilities, apartments and the Plaza viewing platform. As a key member of the project team involved in the construction of the Elbphilharmonie, Zumtobel has helped to realise a series of lighting solutions within the building.


The customised lighting solution for general illumination in the concert hall is particularly impressive. Zumtobel has referenced the architectural philosophy of combining old and new by working closely with Herzog & de Meuron, lighting design firm Ulrike Brandi Licht and the glass designer Detlef Tanz from Wegberg to carefully craft 1200 hand-blown glass ball luminaires. Paying homage to the nearby River Elbe, the fittings appear like light-filled water bubbles emerging from the undulating acoustic ceiling, in which the luminaire housings are discretely concealed from view. The combination of traditional craftsmanship and modern LED technology made the development of this lighting solution a special challenge for Zumtobel. The result is a custom-made luminaire with an especially attractive appearance, which uses a colour temperature of 2700 K to create an emotive atmosphere in the room. The ball fittings are seamlessly dimmable via DMX controls and fully compatible with HDTV, meaning that video recordings made in the concert hall are completely flicker-free. A third of the luminaires are also integrated into the emergency lighting system.

The Plaza features a further 870 machine-made plastic ball luminaires. These LED solutions are grouped in diamond shapes and provide pleasant warm-white general illumination with a colour temperature of 3000 K. Some of the fittings are linked to the emergency lighting network and the whole installation can be seamlessly dimmed with DALI controls.

Zumtobel developed another customised luminaire specifically for the foyer and the cloakroom in front of the concert hall. This hybrid product incorporates a hand-crafted fluorescent fitting with an RGB LED module, which can be separately controlled using a DALI interface. While the conventional fluorescent lamp is used for general lighting, the RGB LED module can be regulated to deliver the right colour for the right mood. Depending on the particular event, this means that the 750 luminaires can be individually adjusted to create poignant effect lighting. A proportion of the fluorescent lamps additionally perform an emergency lighting function.

Zumtobel has also used a number of established standard luminaires in the Elbe Philharmonic Hall. Track-mounted DIAMO and VIVO spotlights controlled by LITECOM provide general illumination in the Störtebecker restaurant. DIAMO is characterised by a precise beam and brilliant light, making it an excellent choice for accent lighting on the tables. Furthermore, PANOS infinity guarantees homogenous basic lighting in the hallways and conference rooms of the Westin Hotel. PANOS downlights offer uniform high-quality illumination of both horizontal and vertical surfaces, creating a pleasant atmosphere in the space.


The Zumtobel lighting solution reflects various elements of the Elbphilharmonie project, which has taken almost ten years to complete. “We are delighted to be part of this architectural jewel with our unique lighting solution - and now we can marvel at the end result,” said Nicole Drong, head of the Zumtobel sales office in Hamburg. Carsten Froh, sales representative for the project, was equally proud: “It is a wonderful feeling to experience the internal and external radiance of this new landmark.” Now the stage is set for this magical location to bring music and life to Hamburg’s Hafen City.