Knauf Knauf

Elbphilharmonie Hamburg


GIFAboard - The Elbphilharmonie and it’s ”white skin”

The “white skin”: spectacular room and sound experiences

The great concert hall of Hamburg’s Elbphilharmonie is recognized by music enthusiasts to be amongst the ten best concert halls worldwide. The so called “white skin”, made from the premium core material GIFAtec by Knauf Integral, has coined its extraordinary design. More than 10.000 wall panels of high dense gypsum fiber panels – all manufactured individually – provide a most singular room and sound experience.

Project report

With the Elbphilharmonie built on the former “Kaiserspeicher A” the Free and Hanseatic city of Hamburg obtained a new cultural landmark of world rank. Designed by the renowned Swiss architects Herzog and de Meuron it was constructed at the west end of the modern HafenCity in the middle of the Elbe river. The complex incorporates three modern concert halls, one hotel as well as 45 apartments and provides from the free accessible Plaza at a height of 37 meters a unique 360° panoramic view over the city and the harbor.

Heart of the building and a stunning highlight from the architectural perspective is the great concert hall that provides space for 2.100 spectators. Due to the vineyard concept every single seat lays within a distance of no more than 30 meters to the stage. The worldwide unique honeycomb structure is well known in the architects’ world as “white skin” and provides acoustic properties on the highest level.

The “white skin” conceptualized by the world-famous acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota spans over more than 6.000 square meters consisting of 10.287 wall panels. Every single one of these panels is unique and put together by up to five layers of the premium raw material GIFAtec by Knauf Integral.


The concert hall is an architectural as well as a constructional masterpiece. The acoustic concept behind the Elbphilharmonie’s “white skin” makes it to one of the ten best concert halls worldwide. The 12.500 tons heavy auditorium rests on 362 springs and is by that decoupled from the main building for sound protection reasons. Best enjoyment is guaranteed on every single one of the 2.100 seats that is placed like on vineyards round the orchestra. The acoustician Yasuhisa Toyota created the most singular wall covering to direct and scatter the sound optimally.


The “white skin” consists to one hundred percent of the premium core material GIFAtec which had been produced by Knauf Integral for this project in a modified, brighter recipe. Up to five layers of these gypsum fiber panels were glued together up to an overall thickness of 180 mm and then processed with CNC machines. According to the acoustician’s specifications more than a million shell dales with a depth of 5 to 90 mm were shaped to give later on the “white skin” its characteristic surface structure. 10.287 wall panels were produced this way every single one being unique. U-sections at the back were used as sub-construction.

construction sign building-blackboard

Client: Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg, represented by ReGe Hamburg Projekt-Realisierungsgesellschaft mbH

General Planner: Working group Herzog & de Meuron, CH-Basel, and Höhler + Partner Architects and Engineers, Hamburg

General contractor: HOCHTIEF, Essen

Acoustics: Yasuhisa Toyota, Nagata Acoustics, Tokyo, Los Angeles, Paris

Project management / assembly: Peuckert GmbH, Mehring

Production and further processing : Hasenkopf Holz + Kunststoff GmbH & Co. KG, Mehring

Product: GIFAtec, Knauf Integral