CES locking system in the Elbphilharmonie

The project:

With its wavy and curved glass façade that has added a new distinctive feature to the Hamburg skyline, with a main concert hall that rests on steel springs for sound insulation and with locking systems for approx. 2,500 doors, the Elbphilharmonie is an extraordinary building in every respect.
For all of the trades involved, this project was a challenge and also the locking technology had to satisfy special requirements. The invitation to tender called for a mechanical locking system with a high-quality stainless steel look.
Together with our partner Konntec Sicherheitssysteme GmbH, Mönchengladbach, we were able to win the contract.
Photo credit: Maxim Schulz, photographer


The challenge: a complex locking plan

The Elbphilharmonie not only accommodates concert halls but also a hotel, restaurants, bars and cafés, an administration and building services wing, private apartments and a multi-storey car park as well as a plaza open to everyone. This diversity of functional and organisational units and the respective different access rights had to be mapped by the locking system. For instance, the fire service must be able to open all doors of the Elbphilharmonie in case of an emergency, whereas the musicians, the employees of the hotel and the catering establishments, the facility management staff and the cleaning crews each have only limited access authorisations. What is more, apart from clearly separated zones, there are also numerous transitions and interfaces between the individual functional units.
For a publicly accessible building such as the Elbphilharmonie, an exact rescue and fire escape plan is of paramount importance which also requires special access arrangements. So comprehensive site visits were made and intensive discussions about the locking plan were held between the Konntec and CES staff and the future users which first resulted in a detailed requirements profile. This then provided the basis for the development of a locking plan matrix that finally would cover more than twenty A3 pages and was something of a blueprint for the ultimate door locking system. A software alone would not have been able to cope with this immense complexity of functions. But CES has the decisive advantage of an own department with experienced system analysts who are able to calculate and implement locking plans with such demanding functional requirements.

The locking system

For the door locking system, the key section DU developed by CES was selected, a conventional locking system conforming to high security standards. The DU stands for the “double undercut” in the lateral profiling of the cylinder which results in a three-dimensional groove that cannot be as easily copied as some two-dimensional systems. This physical safeguard against unauthorized key copying provides a substantial benefit in addition to the legal (patent) protection of the key section until 2030. Thanks to its extremely wide variety, the DU key section is especially suitable for a nearly one-to-one implementation of locking systems of this complexity.
As a standard, the locking cylinders are made of brass. In order to obtain the specified stainless steel look, the metal was satin nickel plated and brushed. The solid keys are made of nickel silver. The system is scalable and subsequent supplies are possible even decades after the original installation – for the operator, this means a long-term protection of the investment.

The special solution: key safes

Another challenge was the design of smart key safes in the concert area. Their job: ensure a reliable handing out of keys to the facility management and cleaning staff and permit access in case of a potential failure of the access control system. The electronics experts at CES developed a special solution tailored exactly to the wishes of the operator HamburgMusik gGmbH. On the key safe, an electronic wall reader is provided for the identification of the user. If the authentication is successful, a toothed gear is put in motion which releases the corresponding key. Removal and return of the key are monitored electronically and documented automatically. If a key is missing, it can be easily retraced who took it at what time. In case of an attempted manipulation, the system promptly triggers an alarm and sends a sabotage message.

The timing

The installation of the locking system was one of the last trades completed in the Elbphilharmonie. Between the final approval of the locking plan in mid-September 2016 and the planned date of the handover of the building and the key ceremony on 31 October, a mere six weeks were available. Without meticulous planning and highest efficiency, such a big and complex locking system could never have been produced in a time span as short as this.

While the production of the cylinder bodies and plugs was running in full swing at CES, the specialists of Konntec already installed the first cylinders delivered. Within this narrow timeframe, CES was even able to supply additional DU cylinders that became necessary as a consequence of new or corrected door dimensions. So the on-time handover of the Elbphilharmonie marked the successful completion of a “turn-key” project in the truest sense of the word.