Starwood Hotels has announced that it will open The Westin Hamburg next year in the much-anticipated Elbe Philharmonic complex. The 10-story, 205-bedroom hotel by architects Herzog & de Meuron will be housed within a glass-fronted, wave-shaped building that sits atop a historic warehouse on the banks of the river Elbe. Boasting a pointed, wave-shaped roof, the complex will also feature three concert halls, 45 private apartments and a more than 43,000 square foot, publicly accessible plaza offering 360-degree city views.
A head-turning assimilation of old and new, the bottom half of the complex is a former warehouse known as Kaispecher A, designed by Werner Kallmorgen and built between 1963 and 1966 on the site of the original neo-Gothic Kaispecher. Architects Herzog & de Meuron gutted and renovated the warehouse specifically for the project. Meanwhile, the upper half of the complex is an all-glass expanse of 1,100 panes, each measuring 13–16 feet wide, with carefully placed projecting curves that give each window a fingerprint-like accent.
The windows were shaped with high precision and marked with small basalt grey reflective dots that prevent the building from overheating in sunlight while creating a shimmering effect that ripples as it catches different reflections.
Sandwiched between the conjunction of old and new, the aforementioned viewing plaza is set off by the contrast between the bottom half’s brickwork and the top half’s iridescent glass frontage. The hotel lobby, a café and access to the foyers of the new concert hall are also located there.
At the heart of the complex is a world-class concert hall with 2,100 seats that rise up on interwoven tiers on all sides of the stage like vineyard terraces. Enter acoustics specialist Yasuhisa Toyota, who was commissioned to seal the concert hall in a material he developed known as White Skin, which also guarantees perfect acoustics. As an added precaution against sleep-deprived hotel guests, the entire concert hall is enclosed in two concrete shells. Floor and ceiling flow seamlessly into one another as if from a single skin made of 10,000 gypsum fiber panels composed of natural plaster and recycled paper.
Accessing the warehouse is a journey unto itself: visitors mount a 269-foot escalator with a concrete arch, whose end cannot be seen. The glowing spherical tunnel, speckled with glass sequins that refract the light, envelops one completely. If you’re wondering about that seafaring roof, its pointy undulations consist of eight spherical, concavely bent sections merged together. It is sprinkled with 6,000 giant sequins that make it ripple and shine like the water surrounding it.
Those raring to visit should bear in mind three important dates: the Westin Hamburg is due to open in October 2016, the public plaza in November 2016, while the Elbe Philharmonic will be inaugurated on January 11, 2017.