GERMANY - Customised concrete for the Elbphilharmonie

When Hamburg’s new €865 million Elbphilharmonie opens its doors tomorrow (11 January), it will be among the world’s leading concert venues, thanks to its innovative architecture and outstanding acoustics.

With two concert halls for 2,100 and 550 people, respectively, plus 44 apartments and 244 hotel rooms and suites, the entire building has a gross floor area of approximately 120,000 square meters and weighs approximately 200,000 tonnes.

The unique project includes 30 different types of high-quality concrete produced and supplied by LafargeHolcim to meet the architects’ aesthetic and technical expectations. The Group was involved in the planning process 12 months before construction began in 2007 in order to share its experience in the delivery of challenging projects such as this one.

Designed by Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron, the plans for the building called for a light-coloured concrete that was produced using a specific blast-furnace cement and high-quality round gravel instead of crushed stone.

This allowed for the creation of a delicate surface quality while reducing dust formation and improving pumpability, which was particularly important for some stretches that exceeded 100m in length.

Other concrete mixes were designed to deliver the required strength, consistency, setting properties and chemical resistance for each part of the complex design, including the building’s load-bearing structural pillars, which are made out of a particularly high-performance concrete.

A total of 63,000 cubic meters of concrete were delivered to the project by a consortium led by LafargeHolcim’s German subsidiary, Holcim Deutschland.

Positioned at a narrow point on the river Elbe, the construction site required sophisticated logistics to guarantee reliable delivery in its crowded inner city location.

To achieve this, LafargeHolcim installed a temporary ready-mixed concrete plant 1km away from the site, and, using state-of-the-art IT systems to control production and scheduling, deliveries were made around the clock, including at night and during weekends.

LafargeHolcim say the Elbphilharmonie further demonstrates their ability to provide solutions for iconic projects around the world, such as the Philharmonie de Paris, the National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC and the Museum of Tomorrow in Rio de Janeiro.

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