We recently learned – not without a certain degree of relief on realising that things are the same the world over – that the almost complete Elphilarmonie Concert Hall in Hamburg designed by the architects Herzog and De Meuron is going to cost the staggering figure of 789 million euros rather than the 77 million euros estimated by the architects in their design, that is to say more than ten times the initial budget.

The fact that this almost comes as no surprise should not hide the harsh reality that an “unexpected” 712 million euros implies, even for the powerful coffers of the German government and/or its sponsors.

Those of us who have had the opportunity, and been lucky enough, to design and construct buildings of a certain size, will know how far a million euros can go, not to mention figures that have two digits before the million.

Anyone can imagine what 712 million euros will build in terms of basic infrastructure, amenities or housing.

In the case of housing, that budget could be used to build an estimated 7,000 homes in Spain, with just a minimum amount of public intervention, or if you prefer to consider the figure in terms of the number of people you could give a decent home to, the estimated number becomes 25,000, and still the citizens of Hamburg might have their new Concert Hall.

No comment.

Enrique Fombella, 01 December 2016