BackgroundFor over a century the Grasbrook peninsula by the River Elbe in Hamburg was the unremarkable home to a series of industrial warehouses serving a growing port city. When it was overhauled and renamed the HafenCity Quarter in the early 2000s, plans were unveiled to build a spectacular concert hall rising up from the foundations of a 19th century quay warehouse. The new building would rise 110 meters above the city, making it Hamburg’s tallest inhabited structure, and an audacious wave shape of the Elbphilharmonie’s roof was conceived to reflect the city’s close historic relationship with the sea.
TaskSwiss architects Herzog & de Meuron were commissioned to draw up plans for the Elbphilharmonie, and they envisaged a structure soaring above the skyline as a stunning emblem of the ongoing HafenCity regeneration process. As well as an inspirational glass exterior, there were plans to engage visitors’ attention inside with glass features that would double up as decorative design touches and information displays, communicating with customers and staff to reflect the bold, futuristic feel of the space.
SolutionWhile the exterior glass facade grabbed the city’s attention, the interior displays really held it with circular glass that could switch between highly reflective mirror and information screen. Hanging throughout the building, the 32 TV mirror displays used SCHOTT MIRONA® semi-transparent glass to achieve the effect, appearing like portholes to visitors and inviting them in. The dual-coated mineral glass can act like a mirror due to its strong reflectivity, but when the display behind is turned on, the mirror becomes an information screen for visitors.
SCHOTT MIRONA® can appear as a mirror or an information display thanks to its semi-transparent properties
The glass displays appear as portholes in the wall, inviting visitors to look at them
The SCHOTT MIRONA® glass displays hang throughout the Hamburg Elbphilharmonie concert hall
The magic of MIRONA®The unique ‘mirror and window’ property of MIRONA® is achieved by a sophisticated design and coating process. Using the sol-gel dipping method, the glass is coated in a metal-oxide solution. These coatings produce the optical interference layer that provides both defined levels of light transmission and light reflectivity, resulting in a dual function. In the mirror/displays in the Elbphilharmonie, a mounting is also printed on the rear of the glass to conceal the profile of the TV display and give a seamless look to the whole unit, so the screen appears then disappears as if by magic.
Transformative displays for fascinating spacesMIRONA® offers the potential not only to flick between displays and mirror effects, but also present products or exhibits in retail or educational environments. As well as the Elbphilharmonie, MIRONA® has proved to be a popular choice for stores and museums to catch the eye of visitors. It can also help maintain a clean, sleek look for interiors when displays are not in use, with mirrors creating the impression of a larger space.
Multimedia collaboration for an innovative result
The success of the Elbphilharmonie project was the result of a close partnership between SCHOTT and a number of other companies. Creating the right blend of architecture, glass, lighting and information required a series of experts combining their talents for the ideal outcome.
Glass made by
Herzog & de Meuron, Switzerland
Glass applications specialist
Cristalux, Kirchberg, Germany
Amptown System Company, Hamburg, Germany