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Classical Hamburg Swiss-designed concert hall opened on the Elbe

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After many delays, Hamburg’s spectacular new "Elbphilharmonie" concert hall designed by Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron has opened its doors. (SRF/swissinfo.ch)

The Elbphilharmonie Orchestra performed for the first time on Wednesday in front of dignitaries including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The facade of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg was lit up to spell out "FERTIG", German for "completed".

The soaring glass structure, built on top of a historic red brick warehouse along the River Elbe, was first envisioned in 2003. Due to construction issues and spiralling expenses, the Elbphilharmonie cost €800 million (nearly CHF859 million), ten times the projected amount, and took ten years to build. 

It comprises three concert halls, a hotel, apartments and a public square elevated 37 metres above the river. The largest of the concert halls seats 2,100 and features an acoustic environment designed by internationally acclaimed acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota.

The prize-winning architects, Herzog and de Meuron, have their head office in Basel, Switzerland. They are perhaps best known for their conversion of the giant Bankside Power Station in London to the new home of the Tate Modern art gallery.