A place of superlatives


M&P’s scope of services

  • General planning of the building engineering systems in the trades: heating, ventilation and sanitary engineering, electrical engineering, measuring and control technology, building control systems
  • Coordination of specialist planning in two building phases
  • Interface to architecture and quality assurance

The Elbphilharmonie, with its audacious curved roof, rising above the pedestal of the former Speicher (warehouse district) in the western part of the harbour city, is a place of superlatives. Up to 110 metres high, 26 floors, a 16,000 m2 glass façade, 2,100 seats alone in the large concert hall, a roof terrace at a height of 75 metres.

Our team significantly contributed to the creation of a world-famous cultural landmark on the banks of the river Elbe. In the space of just six weeks, the M&P Group assembled a team of 20 employees from its Mannheim, Hamburg, Berlin and Braunschweig sites. With great speed and efficiency they dedicated themselves to the troubled large-scale project in Hamburg. Professor Kurt Müller, Rainer Helmboldt, Peter Korff and Jörg Kegel from M&P remember the long and challenging path that led to the emergence of the concert hall.

Picture exterior view: @ Maxim Schulz
Picture foyer: @ Gilda Fernandez


Professor Müller, the Elbphilharmonie building project was for a long time a subject of criticism. Too expensive, too ambitious. Now Hamburg is proud to have a new concert hall. The public mood has changed. This could be linked to your work too, could it not?


Kurt Müller: (laughs) “At least with regard to the atmosphere in the Large Auditorium of the concert hall. All the seating areas there enjoy excellent air conditions. To achieve this, we conducted airflow tests at the Laboratory for Air-Conditioning at the Ostfalia University of Applied Sciences. We wanted to achieve an optimal incoming air supply everywhere in the auditorium. Draughts were not allowed, and visitors’ heads and feet shouldn’t be too warm or too cold. And you shouldn’t be able to hear any air flow noise – it would be terrible if you heard background noise at a concert. For our trials, we built a 1:1 replica of a section of the auditorium with the original chairs. And then, in a series of tests, the parameters were fixed: 22 degrees inflow temperature, a volume of 44 m3 per hour of fresh air supply. We even changed the seating arrangements to ensure ideal airflow conditions. And we succeeded. And do you know what I’m proud of? Everything runs so smoothly at the concerts that nobody realises how difficult this was to achieve.”


Was it really possible to carry over the results of the model trial one to one – or were additional control measurements and adjustments necessary?

Reiner Helmboldt: “Adjustments are always necessary. And an important part of our optimisation strategy. On completion of our trial series in the laboratory and after the installation of the air-conditioning system, I performed an air quality check during some test concerts. We wanted to know whether our exacting requirements for temperature and air flow – both physically and perceived – would work in practice too. My job, in any case, was to monitor and coordinate the execution of the building engineering systems. There were so many technical building sites in the Elbphilharmonie, that, as a project manager, I can only say: hats off to our entire team! The speed at which we put together a team which was so extremely committed and efficient – nobody is likely to equal M&P in a hurry!”


A large building site, numerous managers, time pressures – how is then even possible to brings things to a conclusion?

Peter Korff: “Quite simple: by being on-site. Proximity to the building site is critical for success. We had our engineering office on the building site and were there every day as a contact for everyone. This enabled us to quickly move from the planning to the actual construction phase. In the run-up, there were conflicts between the technical planners and the architects. I was the coordinator and managed to reconcile all the individual interests, which meant that decisions could be reached quickly. For this, you need to maintain a general overview and have good negotiating skills. Working on the Elbphilharmonie project was a highlight in my professional life. To bring a project that was going nowhere back onto a successful pathway – that’s a great feeling. Now it’s finished, now it’s working.”


But how did you ever manage to complete it? Does the entire technology in such a large building work smoothly from day one?

Jörg Kegel: “You can just image. If you already have a technology that is complex, complicated and sensitive, you do, of course, have to anticipate multiplying everything up. You can’t just apply the same parameters on a large scale. And, as you can imagine, such a unique technology won’t run as smoothly from the very beginning as it was planned on paper. Until today, my team and I have been working hard on establishing the controlled operation of the entire building automation system and getting it to run at the highest level of efficiency. This of commissioning is, of course, part and parcel of M&P’s ‘performance promise’”.


The M&P’s team’s work on the Elbphilharmonie was very intense and multifaceted. A unique accomplishment? Or would you be inclined to use this networked approach in other building projects too?

Kegel: “I am convinced that this is way to move forward with every building project. Just take the project planning alone. There are always so many project participants, who simply can’t keep everything in mind – without competent support. Without a direct exchange of information too much would fall by the wayside. Our job involves getting everything that has been planned and built to operate reliably. This ensures the functionality, energy efficiency and the meeting of the ease-of-use requirements of each and every building project. M&P makes sure that every good idea is quickly turned into an inspiring reality.”