The Elphie, Germany's answer to the Opera House

It's been dubbed the project of the decade and also the new Sydney Opera House. Finally, the Elbphilharmonie​, in Hamburg, Germany, has opened to the public, six years late and 10 times the original budget – but who's counting? Designed by Swiss architectural powerhouse Herzog & de Meuron of Tate Modern fame, and wrought from the bones of an 1875 warehouse, the Elphie is crowned with an undulating, sequined roof with 1000 curved glass panels that glitter and reflect the sun, sky and the waters of the Elbe River. Comprising three concert halls, the largest is the 2100-seat Grand Hall, now in the throes of a three-week long opening festival, replete with works commissioned specifically for the opening that showcasing the Elphie's resident orchestras. The key to the concert hall's pure sound is the acoustic "white skin" on the walls, made from 10,000 panels that steer the sound into every corner. Although the architects took reference from sports stadiums and the ancient temple at Delphi (as well as tents), those who like to see the whites of the performing musicians' eyes will be pleased to note that even the back seats are no more than 30 metres from the conductor. Set on a peninsula jutting into the river, the complex also includes the four-star, 250-room Westin Hotel Hamburg, with rooms from $US213. A public plaza, reached by a curved, 82-metre escalator, is open to all comers, so even if you're not a fine music fan, or not really into architecture, it's worth a visit for its expansive views of the north German harbour city and the rejuvenated precinct around the concert hall. See elbphilharmonie.de, westinhamburg.com

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