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»Window Waltz«: A Musical New Year's Greeting from Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

The equipment used to clean the facade has a variety of other uses too…

The Elbphilharmonie window cleaners not only have a good head for heights, they also have a musical streak – as if one would expect any different –, and display their talent by performing a special Hamburg version of Johann Strauss's immortal »Blue Danube Waltz« on their cleaning equipment.

Elbphilharmonie Window Waltz

»Window Waltz«

The Elbphilharmonie`s window cleaners with their very special version of »Blue Danube Waltz«.

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Over 1,100 printed elements make up the 16,000 square metres of the spectacular Elbphilharmonie facade, which sets new architectural standards, rising above the Hamburg docklands like a huge crystal wave. No less spectacular than the facade itself is the task of cleaning this colossal glass surface. It takes up to eight industrial climbers in each case some three weeks to clean the entire glass façade of the concert building. They hang as high as 110 metres in their steel working cage, and a total of 2 kilometres of rope ensures their safety. 

Window Waltz / Making Of
Window Waltz / Making Of © Christopher Koch

The four industrial climbers produce their rendering of »The Blue Danube« together with the violinist Athina and use their tools to musical effect on the 48 mm thick glass. At one moment they are imitating the sound of violins with their squeegees, the next, they're using their wipers and telescopic poles as percussion instruments on the glass.

The facade

  • 1,100 elements
  • 16,000 square metres
  • Highest point: 110 metres
  • Glass thickness: 48 mm
  • Duration of cleaning: 3 weeks

Working on the Elbphilharmonie is not only special because it's such a popular building. The unique architecture and the location means we're constantly exposed to changing wind conditions, and makes it quite a challenge to clamber up and down the facade.

Industrial climber Steffen Falkenberg

Video: Making Of »Window Waltz«

The window cleaners are a bit apprehensive beforehand ...

Window Waltz / Making Of

Before filming starts at a dizzy height, they make a »dry run« for the waltz on the windows inside the building.

Window Waltz / Making Of
Window Waltz / Making Of © Christopher Koch

Everything is prepared and lashed tight at ground level. 

Window Waltz / Making Of
Window Waltz / Making Of © Christopher Koch

There's no room for error…

Window Waltz / Making Of
Window Waltz / Making Of © Christopher Koch

…and finally the window cleaning and window music can begin.

Window Waltz / Making Of
Window Waltz / Making Of © Christopher Koch

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