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Case Study: Elbphilharmonie

WAGNER technology protects the heart of the Elbphilharmonie: the Great Hall

In 2016, WAGNER installed TITANUS® aspirating smoke detectors for very early fire detection in the Elbphilharmonie Concert Hall in Hamburg. 40 rooms, including the showpiece of the Elbphilharmonie, the Great Hall, the Small Hall, the Quay Studio 1, the foyer and technical areas are thus protected by the aesthetically unobtrusive smoke detectors.

The unique design of the Elbphilharmonie concert hall, with a large number of different rooms, required a sophisticated fire protection concept in which all trades work together reliably. This enables visitors and employees as well as musicians to be evacuated quickly and safely in the event of a fire and countermeasures to be initiated. Particularly early fire detection is therefore of immense importance. In addition, the architects specified that the fire detectors be installed almost invisibly. Both criteria, which WAGNER can fulfil with its TITANUS® aspirating smoke detectors.

WAGNER realized this project together with the general contractor Hochtief and the company Dehn. The largest protected area of the Elbphilharmonie is the concert area with a total of around 4,000 m² (Large Hall: 3,300 m² with 2,100 seats and Small Hall 440 m² with 550 seats). The showpiece of the Elbphilharmonie is unique with its acoustically sophisticated interior cladding ("White Skin") and its structure that is freely suspended in the building.

The Elbphilharmonie made headlines even before its ceremonial opening in 2017, due to delays in construction (10 years in total) and immense cost increases (around €800 million in the end). This seemed to change abruptly when the doors opened to visitors, be it for the visitor platform or one of the many sold-out concerts. In a very short time, the Elbphilharmonie became a magnet for visitors and a new landmark for the Hanseatic city of Hamburg. In the first year after its opening, around 850,000 people attended the more than 600 concerts in the concert hall and over 4.5 million people enjoyed the view from the "Plaza" visitor platform.

Fire protection requirements are immense

Risk Analysis

  • Electrics
    Defective electrical systems, equipment and props, such as lighting equipment, etc., can be possible sources of ignition.
  • Height
    The Great Hall is 25m high and has a large volume. A permanent check for smoke particles is therefore mandatory.
  • Textiles
    Many parts, such as the acoustic interior cladding of the Great Hall (gypsum fiberboard) are highly combustible.

Protection Goals

  • Visitors and employees
    To protect visitors, employees and musicians, a secure early fire detection system is essential.
  • Inventory
    A false alarm must be prevented so that the "White Skin" responsible for the acoustics in the Great Hall and the organ are not damaged.
  • Architecture
    As a superlative building, the Elbphilharmonie is the new landmark of the city of Hamburg. This must be protected from fire and damage.

In the Elbphilharmonie, fire protection is under cover

67 false-alarm-proof TITANUS TOP.SENS® aspirating smoke detectors actively take air samples from the ambient air in various rooms of the Elbphilharmonie and analyze them for the smallest smoke particles. In the SILENT version, the smoke detectors are very quiet at 23 dB (A) and do not disturb the acoustics.

Together with heat sensor cables in the floor of the visitor tiers, the TITANUS® devices control a high-pressure fog extinguishing system to fight the fire. This means: If TITANUS® detects a fire, the sprinkler heads of the extinguishing system are pre-flooded (until then they are dry). If the heating cables also detect a rise in temperature in the room, the extinguishing system is only actually triggered. The double safety until the high-pressure fog extinguishing system is triggered was very important to those responsible at the concert hall in order to prevent damage caused by a false alarm.

Customer Benefits

  • Pianissimo
    The aspirating smoke detectors are virtually silent in the SILENT variant.
  • Unobtrusive
    The ceiling ducts and intake openings are almost invisible.
  • Deceptive alarm safe
    Very high deception alarm reliability thanks to fire pattern recognition.
  • Early
    Thanks to TITANUS® , the alarm is triggered early and safely. This makes timely evacuation possible.
  • Reliable
    TITANUS® aspirating smoke detectors are 2,000 times more sensitive than conventional point detectors.

Customer Testimonial

Dennis Just, Technical Director of the Elbphilharmonie

Reliable fire detection was a high priority in the planning of the Elbphilharmonie. The solution chosen with TITANUS® aspirating smoke detectors shows that this does not have to be at the expense of the building's aesthetics.

More impressions of the Elbphilharmonie


Since 1997, WAGNER has been developing aspirating smoke detectors to detect smoldering and incipient fires at an early stage. This is our contribution to saving people and protecting assets. Please feel free to contact us if you also require our expertise as a global technology leader for aspirating smoke detection systems.

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