Economically Unfeasible Architecture

From time to time, I’m happy to have family or friends visiting me in Hamburg. I already have a predefined route around some attractions which we usually take and enjoy the views.

When we go by buildings like the Rathaus or St. Nicholas Church, time and time again I’m amazed by what things they built back then. How fortunate are we today to inherit it.

Inevitably, the route takes us to the Elbphilharmonie. This is a stunning building, rising above the HafenCity, the sun glitters in its wave-like roof. I will surely not be able to describe its beauty. You have to see it yourself, Dear Reader (preferably on a sunny day). But here is the most amazing thing, in my opinion. The surface of the concert hall is covered by 10,000 uniquely shaped gypsum fibre panels designed by a computer algorithm. Each of this piece of puzzle reflects the sound in its own way and all together creating a unique acoustic.

But the Elbphilharmonie (Elphi) is controversial. The construction started in 2007 with an estimated cost of €241 million and scheduled to finish in 2010. In 2008 the cost was reestimated to 450 million. In 2012 to 500. Construction ended on 31st October 2016 with a cost of €789 million.

Because of this, many people don’t like the Elphi. In the end it costed so much more than estimated. Financially, we can call this project a failure. But, Dear Reader, did you see what remarkable piece of architecture it is? How impressed are the people visiting only the foyer and the plaza?

It’s sad that today is extremely difficult to create something, if financially it doesn’t make sense. I wonder what modern architecture will be left for the next generations to enjoy.

And then I think about software architecture. There is a great open source community that does good things, but to bring anything to a high level you’ll have to convince first the investors that they will get tones of money from it.

As I am writing this, I have wikipedia opened at the article about Elphi. I wonder, if we didn’t have wikipedia, would someone start such a project today?…

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