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Visible and Audible: Current Optimisations for Steps and Recital Hall

The first exciting half-year has come to an end – and it brought not only spectacular concert experiences with it, but also important insights into the functionality of the new ...

As part of any successful concert, visitors should not only enjoy the musical performance but also be able to safely and easily reach their seat in the hall. The architecture of the Grand Hall and the bright, light-filled foyer has aroused admiration every evening. Some visitors, however, have found fault with the visibility of the steps, which in the Grand Hall have until now been marked with a 5-mm-wide band, and in the foyers at the beginning of each tread of stairs.

Stairs / Foyer
Stairs / Foyer © Michael Zapf

Grand Hall and Foyer: Better Visibility and Perceptibility of Steps

To determine how to improve the marking, a test was carried out in partnership with the Hamburg Association for the Blind and Visually Impaired (BSVH). As a result of this test, every single step in the foyer has been marked. In addition, the beginning and end of staircases have been marked using additional black bands. All the markings are applied in a way that allows them to be felt with a cane.

It was good that we had a few weeks to conduct some improvements. I’m especially glad that we could use the summer break to mark the steps in the Elbphilharmonie so that they are better visible to everyone.

Dr Carsten Brosda, Senator for Culture

In the Grand Hall, the steps at the transition from the rows of seats to the stairs are now marked more clearly. In addition to the bands that were already there, six dots that can be felt by the feet have now also been installed. This should help concertgoers be more aware as they move from the rows of seats to the stairs.

Grand Hall
Grand Hall © Michael Zapf


Foyer and Grand Hall

  • All steps are marked with a 15-mm-wide black band.
  • The beginning and end of each staircase are marked with a second 15-mm-wide band before the first and last step.

Grand Hall

  • The steps at the transition from the rows of seats to the staircase are marked with six black dots (each 30 mm in diameter) that can be felt by the feet.

Recital Hall: Perfect Acoustics for Every Concert

Improvements are also being carried out in the Recital Hall before September – however these are of an acoustic kind. The first section of the eastern wall of the hall at stage level was adjusted before the opening, and the wood panelling at the back part of the same wall is now also being reworked, thus guaranteeing optimal acoustics for every conceivable type of performance.