Quietness, Comfortable Sound and Excellent Acoustics NAGATA ACOUSTICS

News 13-05 (No.305)

Issued : May 25, 2013

[ Japanese Version ]

The Re-Birth of Osaka's Festival Hall

By Toshiko Fukuchi

After four years of temporary closure that began at the end of 2008, Osaka's Festival Hall is again open as a concert venue in the Nakanoshima section of the city. The new venue's formal inaugural ceremony took place on April 3 followed by the first performance on April 10-a gala concert featuring Teatro La Fenice di Venezia, conducted by Myung-Whun Chung.

The new venue immediately stepped into the shoes of the old Festival Hall by hosting the 51st Osaka International Festival, an event the previous hall had hosted 50 times. A part of the lineup for the ongoing 51st International Festival was a Teatro La Fenice di Venezia performance of Othello, a concert by Maestro Lorin Maazel conducting the Munich Philharmonic Orchestra, and a concert by Maestro Eiji Oue and the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra.

The old Festival Hall had 2,700 seats and saw as many as 40 million concert patrons come through its doors during its 50 years of operation. Performances in the old hall ranged from classical to popular music, jazz, musicals and traditional Japanese music. The old Festival Hall was one of the most well-known and beloved halls in Japan. Among the highlights of the old hall were its 30 m. (98 ft) wide stage and its reputation for acoustics that spread down to the audience from the hall's ceiling. Many musicians and other genre performers praised and appreciated the acoustics of the old hall, and it was a favorite venue of concert patrons.

For the new Festival Hall, we pursued the design concept of "Heritage and Evolution". We recreated the most appreciated and distinguishing features of the old venue while the project improved such aspects as the space and comfortableness of the audience seating and installed technologically advanced stage machinery and other hall equipment. The project team assembled to achieve these ends included Nikken Sekkei as the project architect and Takenaka Corporation in the role of general contractor. Nagata Acoustics provided comprehensive acoustical design services to the project, including participation during the construction phase and post-completion acoustical measuring.

<< Recreating the Best of the Old Hall in the New Hall's Interior Configuration >>

New Festival Hall interior (audience seating)
New Festival Hall interior (audience seating)

New Festival Hall interior (stage)
New Festival Hall interior (stage)

One of the salient features of the old hall was how the seating configuration gave the audience the feeling of proximity to the stage. In the new hall, the seating is wider and has more generous space between the rows. Therefore, in order to have the same total number of seats as the old hall, the new hall's dimensions would naturally become larger in width and length. Instead, we added a second balcony to the hall. In addition, we wrapped the balcony around the left and right sides of the first floor seating and, at each of the left and right side walls of the hall we created nine small balcony boxes that can each accommodate two seats. The seating in the new hall continues the heritage of creating feelings of intimacy between the audience and the stage.

The old hall was the venue for many classical music concerts. It had an orchestra shell that was set up for classical music performances. This orchestra shell had some gaps that resulted in the old hall having a reverberation time that was not as long as one might have wanted it to be. Yet, the old hall maintained a very favorable reputation among classical music fans for its generally fine acoustics and especially for the excellent clarity and the ability to hear distinct separation between notes.

In the new hall, we aimed to recreate the old hall's excellent clarity while also achieving more rich acoustics. We specified a stage opening of 25 m. (82 ft) when setting up the shell, which represents a 5 m. (16 ft) reduction compared with the old hall. For the shape of the hall on the 2nd and the 3rd levels, we drew on the heritage of the old hall and designed shapes that widen towards the rear of the hall, but for the first level, we took into consideration the goal of improving the acoustics at seats in the center area of this level and decided to implement the side walls paralleled with sound diffusing elements.

We recreated the curved ceiling of the old hall and adapted it to ensure that sound reflections reach every audience seat. One way we accomplished this goal was by reusing the basic concept of the old hall's distinctive wood ribbed ceiling while specifying new dimensions and spacing to achieve improved acoustics. While working thoroughly on the hall design, we concluded that this design would provide effective sound reflections to many of the hall's seats, but that we would need to implement additional measures to obtain sound reflections that would reach the center area of the first floor seating area. Therefore, we added three-dimensional sound diffusing elements on the new orchestra shell and also on the side walls.

<< The Effect of Sound Diffusing Elements >>

The old Festival Hall also had sound diffusing elements on its side walls, so this aspect of our acoustical room design visually recreates the look of the old hall. However, the shapes of the new hall's sound diffusing elements are totally different than those of the old hall. We designed the bottoms of the new sound diffusing elements to specifically cause sound reflections to reach the first floor center audience seating area.

During the design phase of the project we used an iterative and intensely focused process to determine the shapes and sizes of the sound diffusing elements for the side walls. The size of the face of each diffusing element measures about 1 sq. m., but we implemented 10 different variations for the depth each diffuser extends from the wall and the angle at which it is set. We installed a total of 811 of these diffusing elements in the hall.

After the completion of the project's construction, the Osaka Philharmonic Orchestra played a pre-opening test concert in the hall and provided positive feedback about the effect of the sound diffusing elements. The orchestra's players said that they could hear their colleagues' parts well and that they found it easy to play in the hall. This orchestra's musicians again offered similar positive comments after they performed at the 51st International Festival.

The sound diffusing elements contribute greatly to the consistent acoustics we achieved across the entire audience seating area. In addition, the sound diffusing elements play a key role in the hall's rich sound and excellent clarity of tone. For all these reasons, this project reaffirmed for me the effectiveness and importance of a hall's sound diffusing elements.

Singer Masashi Sada performed the first popular music concert in the new hall. Mr. Sada was a dedicated fan of the old hall and I was especially pleased and relieved to learn from hall representatives that Mr. Sada told them that he likes the new hall as well.

<< Sound Isolation Design >>

The Yotsubashi Subway Line runs underground at a close distance to the new Festival Hall's site. During the early design phase of this project, we performed acoustical evaluations in the old hall and found solid-borne noise levels from the underground trains of NC-25 to NC-30. We aimed to achieve improved quiet in the new hall.

In addition to controlling noise from the external environment, our sound isolation planning considered the proximity of stores and offices and the need to prevent the transmission of sound from the hall to these spaces. For this requirement, we gave special consideration to the expected large sound powers during popular music concerts and decided to adopt a box-in-box sound isolating structural design that incorporated the use of a resilient material. Implementing this design for an entire hall of 2,700 seats, with a floor area of 1,600 sq. m. (17,200 sq. ft) and a 30 m. (98 ft) high stage tower was a huge, labor-intensive effort. In particular, the installation method and selection of the resilient material to be used on the two balconies, the balcony boxes and the stage required our careful consideration.

After the completion of construction, we confirmed that the noise from the Yotsubashi Line subway is less than NC-15 in the new hall. Also, we listened for any transfer of sound from the hall to nearby office and retail spaces and confirmed that we successfully isolated the new hall and that sound transfer is negligible.

<< Visual Aspects of the New Festival Hall Continue the Old Festival Hall Legacy >>

Nakanoshima Festival Tower
Nakanoshima Festival Tower

The new Festival Hall is located on the lower floors of the 37-story Nakanoshima Festival Tower Building. The exterior of the tower has a square shape with rounded corners and the lower floors have a brick fašade reminiscent of the original Festival Hall's building, preserving its legacy. The decorative frescoes of muses playing instruments has also been faithfully recreated on the exterior of the new building, this time with slightly larger dimensions than the old hall's versions.

When concertgoers arrive to the new hall from the Yotsubashi Line entrance, a large stairway with red carpeting greets them as it did in the old hall. The new hall's red audience seating and floor carpeting also faithfully continue the tradition of the old hall's interior color palette. Through these and other means, the project's participants have designed the interior of the new hall so that patrons who remember the old Festival Hall feel equally at home in the new hall.

Performers have also commented that the new Festival Hall has the same feeling as the old Festival Hall. After the International Festival, the new Festival Hall's calendar has been filled with some of Japan's most famous popular talent. In addition to the aforementioned Masashi Sada, Tatsuro Yamashita, Alice and Miyuki Nakajima have held concerts in the hall and Kyogen, Noh, ballet, Rakugo and musicals are also on the calendar. I look forward to the new Festival Hall becoming as beloved a venue as the hall of the same name that preceded it.

The URL for the Festival Hall website is http://www.festivalhall.jp/english/.

Mihama lifelong learning center "Navi-us" Opens in Fukui Pref.'s Mihama-cho

By Ayako Hakozaki

More than one Japanese town bears the name "Mihama-cho" (literally, "town of beautiful beaches"). In this article, I discuss the new civic facility recently completed in the Mihama-cho of Fukui Prefecture. The town is well known as the location of the Mihama nuclear power plant, but it equally deserves a reputation for the abundant natural beauty of its surroundings. In particular, the town has beautiful seaside vistas of Wakasa Bay and five adjacent lakes named Mikata-goko, which are internationally protected wetlands.

Exterior of the Facility
Exterior of the Facility

In November, 2012, Mihama lifelong learning center "Navi-us" opened in Mihama-cho. Eight years earlier, the town celebrated the 50th anniversary of its incorporation. On that occasion, the town created a mission statement declaring itself a "town of lifelong learning". Plans for the new lifelong learning center began when the town recognized the dual needs to replace its old Chuo Community Center and increase the space of the town's library. The Navi-Us facility combines both functionalities on one campus.

To name the new lifelong learning center, the town ran a naming contest open to the entire Japanese public. The newly coined, winning Navi-Us name combines part of the Japanese verb to learn ("manabi") with the English word "us".

<< Layout and Facilities at the Lifelong Learning Center >>

The southeast side of the Navi-Us building houses the town's public library and the north and west sides of the building have spaces for use as a community center. Inside the building's main entrance, a wide corridor named "Learning Street" provides access to the center's various facilities.

The largest space in the community center area of the building is the 489-seat Hall auditorium. In addition, this area of the building has a flat-floor Community Room intended for performance rehearsals, exhibitions and meetings, Studio equipped with drums, a guitar amplifier and recording equipment, and Hobby Rooms for cooking classes, ceramics workshops and other artwork classes. This area also has a Japanese tatami room.

Plan of the Facility
Plan of the Facility

A photo of the Learning Street corridor taken from the library side and facing toward the main entrance
The Learning Street taken from the library
side and facing toward the main entrance

A photo of the Studio with the main entrance visible through the studio's glass walls
The Studio with the main entrance
visible through the studio's glass walls

<< Sound Isolation Design for the Lifelong Learning Center >>

The lifelong learning center building has a compact interior layout. In particular, the Hall auditorium and other rooms of the community center area are located in close proximity to each other and to the library area. Because of this layout, sound isolation performance became an early and important focus of Nagata Acoustics' work on this project.

To achieve effective sound isolation, we located the Hall and the Community Room to the west of the outdoor Art Garden and the Studio and the library to the east of the outdoor garden, effectively separating these groups of rooms from each other and using the outdoor space as a sound isolation buffer zone. In addition, because the Hall and the Community Room are separated only by the Learning Street corridor, we applied a box-in-box system with a glass-wool floating floor.

Our sound isolation design further addressed the expectation that users of the music studio will produce large sound volumes. For this space, we applied a box-in-box system that uses a resilient material under the floor.

<< Room Acoustical Design for the Hall >>

The Hall auditorium is a multipurpose hall with a proscenium and an orchestra shell. The hall's interior design draws inspiration from imagery of schools of fish and fish scales, appropriate themes for the auditorium of a seaside town. The walls and ceiling of the stage and around the audience seating have wood panels based on these two themes.

Our acoustical room design included specific details for the angles of the hall's wood panels. Through these details, these elements of the interior design provide abundant reflections effectively both on the stage and in the audience seating area. For some wall portions such as the rear wall of the audience, we installed perforated panels with sound absorbing specifications in order to prevent the occurrence of echoes.

The Hall The Hall
Interior of the Hall

<< Concerts and Other Performances in the Hall and the Community Room >>

In November 2012, the Hall held its inaugural event featuring a special live performance by veteran Japanese enka-style singer Hiroshi Itsuki. Mr. Itsuki is a native of Mihama-cho. He sang his famous repertories with deep emotion and also to his own accompaniment on the hall's Italian-made Fazioli piano. Navi-Us offers the residents of Mihama-cho the opportunities to play and enjoy the wonderful sound of the new piano by scheduling a regular series of "The Piano Day". In the short span of time since the Hall's opening, residents have also enjoyed wind orchestra, piano, chamber music, shamisen and Kabuki performances in the hall.

Some residents took on the task of planning and running seminars and lectures, and the town's Board of Education is providing financial support for the newly established system for organizing the lecture calendar. With this system, the Community Room was used for a concert of shamisen and other Okinawan music in February, 2013.

With this vigorous start, the new lifelong learning center surely has a promising future of providing cultural and educational programs for the residents of Mihama-cho. The website of the center is available in Japanese.

Upcoming Pipe Organ Concert "Pipe Organ Entertainment 6"

By Toshiko Fukuchi

The Hall

Organist Ryoki Yamaguchi will perform a concert entitled "Pipe Organ Entertainment 6"at Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall's Large Hall on Wednesday, July 31. The concert will coincide with the port's mid-summer fireworks displays that are scheduled for the same evening. Mr. Yamaguchi promises to "compete" with the attraction of the fireworks by playing a stunning program of specially selected works.

Cameras will be set up at Mr. Yamaguchi's hands and feet so that concert attendees can watch his performance on the hall's screen. Also, in response to the very favorable feedback after silent movie showings during previous Pipe Organ Entertainment concerts, a silent movie will again be shown during the performance.

Access from Tokyo's Ikebukuro Station has been made more convenient with the Yokohama Kosoku Minato Mirai Train Line connection to the Fukutoshin Line and Tokyu Line.

Date: Wednesday, July 31 at 7:15 (Doors open at 6:30.)
Location: Yokohama Minato Mirai Hall Large Hall (Tickets can be purchased by calling +81-45-682-2000)
Ticket prices: ¥2,500, ¥1,500 for students and seniors over the age of 65.

I hope to see you there!

Nagata Acoustics Inc.

(Tokyo Office)
Hongo Segawa Bldg. 3F, 2-35-10 Hongo
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Tel: +81-3-5800-2671, Fax: +81-3-5800-2672

(LA Office)
2130 Sawtelle Blvd., Suite 308
Los Angeles, CA 90025, U.S.A.
Tel: +1-310-231-7878, Fax: +1-310-231-7816

(Paris Office)
75, avenue Parmentier
75011 Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 21 44 25, Fax: +33 (0)1 40 21 24 00

E-mail: info@nagata.co.jp

[ Japanese Version ]