Designers Use Illuminated Drones To Create Waves Around Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

Studio DRIFT's Breaking Waves at Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

Breaking Waves (2022); Rendering: Moka-Studios

The iconic Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, designed by renowned architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron, is a contemporary symbol of the city of Hamburg. The building is celebrating its fifth anniversary this year in style with a dazzling light installation. Designed by Studio DRIFT, Breaking Waves uses hundreds of illuminated drones to create floating ripples of light around the structure.

“Art should be accessible to as many people as possible,” says Ralph Nauta, one of the founders of Studio DRIFT. “That’s why we designed our installation for the public space. When we started working with the Elbphilharmonie, we both immediately agreed that we need to bring what’s happening indoors to the outside, where people can see it.”

Breaking Waves certainly brings the public to the celebration, even when viewed from afar. The dynamic waves of the light installation mimic both the harbor that surrounds the building and the pattern of moving water at the top of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg.

The drones are synchronized with the second movement of Thomas Adès’ Concerto for Piano and Orchestra as it is performed in the Grand Hall for the anniversary concert. If you want to see Breaking Waves and the rest of the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg birthday celebration yourself, make sure you are around on the evening of April 28, 2022 when it is first revealed. You can watch the installation in action again each night until May 1, 2022.

Studio DRIFT illuminates the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg with waves of drones in Breaking Waves.

Studio DRIFT's Breaking Waves at Elbphilharmonie Hamburg

Breaking Waves (2022); Rendering: Moka-Studios

Studio DRIFT: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Issuu | Spotify
Elbphilharmonie Hamburg: Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube

My Modern Met granted permission to feature photos by Studio DRIFT.

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Samantha Pires

Sam Pires is a Contributing Writer at My Modern Met and one of the co-hosts of the My Modern Met Top Artist Podcast. She is also a freelance architectural designer. She holds a Bachelor of Architecture degree from NJIT and is currently earning a Master in Architecture II from the Harvard Graduate School of Design. Sam has design experience at multiple renowned architecture firms such as Gensler and Bjarke Ingels Group. She believes architecture should be more accessible to everyone and uses writing to tell unexpected stories about the built environment. You can connect with her online at
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