News 14-09 (No.321)
Issued : September 25, 2014
Kyoto National Museum Heisei Chishinkan Wing Opens
By Akira Ono
<< Overview of the Heisei Chishinkan Wing Design and Construction >>
Heisei Chishinkan Wing (left foreground) and
Main Museum Building (right background)
Designed by Meiji Era Japanese architect Tokuma Katayama, the Kyoto National Museum’s original main building exemplifies the architecture of that period and Mr. Katayama’s style. The building has been designated an Important Cultural Property of Japan. The museum’s design is similar to that of Architect Katayama’s most famous building, the Akasaka Palace (State Guest House), which is a Japanese National Treasure and located on the Imperial Palace grounds in Tokyo.
The Kyoto National Museum main building’s construction completed in 1895 and opened in 1897. For more than 100 years the museum has housed many important Kyoto cultural properties. In 1966 a new wing was added to the museum for the purpose of displaying specific parts of the collection to the general public. The Heisei Chishinkan Wing replaces the 1966 structure.
The Heisei Chishinkan Wing building completed construction in December, 2013 and the new wing opened to the public this month on September 13, 2014. At the same time that “Heisei Chishinkan” (“Heisei [Era] Hall of Discovering the New”) was decided for the new wing’s name, the original main building was renamed “Meiji Kotokan” (“Meiji Antiquities Hall”).
Heisei Chishinkan was designed by acclaimed Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi and his firm, Taniguchi and Associates. Mr. Taniguchi’s proposal won a government-sponsored design competition for the project in 1998 and 16 years elapsed before the project came to fruition.
Compared with the heavy, French Renaissance style of Meiji Kotokan, the Heisei Chishinkan Wing achieves cohesiveness with the original museum structure while adding a sleekly elegant—almost stoic—minimalist beauty created through the use of straight lines. An example of the architect’s attention to the surrounding environment is the care he took to align the overhang of the new building with the eaves of Meiji Kotokan.
<< Auditorium Acoustics >>
Chishinkan Wing Auditorium
Metal mesh fabric ceiling (seen from the space
between this layer and the “true” board ceiling)
The purpose of any museum is to offer an appealing environment where cultural assets are not only stored but also displayed for viewing by the public. People involved with the Heisei Chishinkan project additionally identified the expectation and ambition that it will become a destination that people visit repeatedly because of both its exhibits and audience-attracting events.
A key venue for the events is on the basement level of the new wing where Heisei Chishinkan has a 204-seat auditorium equipped with the most technologically advanced AV equipment that a museum might want, including a 350-inch screen and projection equipment that can play 4K and virtual reality content. Also, the auditorium’s functionalities go beyond what one might expect even in a state-of-the-art museum, because the auditorium has been designed so it can be used for piano recitals and classical chamber music concerts as well as for lectures and video presentations. To design the acoustics that make this possible, in 2008 Nagata Acoustics was invited to join the project team.
The biggest constraint that we faced in designing the room acoustics for this space was the fixed heights of the concrete slabs above and below the auditorium. To maximize the ceiling height of the auditorium within this constraint, we designed a ceiling shape based on acoustical considerations and fabricated it of wallboard directly below the overhead slab. Below this “true” ceiling, we placed a layer of acoustically transparent metal mesh fabric designed to the architect’s interior specifications. The metal mesh fabric has a chain-like pattern with subtle textural variations, creating a beautiful and expressive ceiling surface that is a visual focal point of the auditorium.
<< Events in the Auditorium >>
The auditorium became available for concerts this past spring and has already been used for an erhu concert and, in July, for a 3-day series of lectures with video presentations on the topic of Japan’s ancient shrines and temples and the preservation of these cultural properties. Now that the Heisei Chishinkan Wing has opened, the museum will hold regular Saturday talks related to exhibits on display in the new wing.
The museum held a long-running program series named “Kyoto—Rakugo Museum” that featured performances by famous rakugo (storytelling) masters. During the demolition of the 1966 wing and construction of Heisei Chishinkan, the museum held this regularly scheduled event at the Hyatt Regency Kyoto Hotel that faces the grounds of the museum. With the opening of the new Heisei Chishinkan wing, the museum is producing a new program series in the auditorium with performances scheduled from the end of October through November. Entitled “House of Beicho”, each performance will feature a famous rakugo artist plus—for the “Beicho” part—an android robot that looks like the famous, retired rakugo artist Beicho Katsura (awarded the prestigious Japanese “person of cultural merit” honor in 2009). The android robot looks uncannily like the real-life Beicho in its facial features and expressions, as well as hand and body gestures. Readers of this article can see a video of the Beicho android robot together with the real-life storyteller on YouTube here or by entering the keywords “Beicho android” in YouTube search. Fans of the real-life Beicho may find the robot difficult to stomach, but apparently interest is running very high for this series.
With this new trend, who knows if the next step will be a whole “stable” of rakugo android robots? Could a Richter android robot or other android robot piano virtuoso also be on the horizon? For the present, the museum’s new series will also include a talk by makeup artist Shinya Endo and Professor Hiroshi Ishiguro, Director of Osaka University’s Intelligent Robotics Laboratory, who collaborated on the Beicho android robot.
<< Enjoying the Museum Grounds’ Gardens >>
Concerts and other events are planned for the central garden that is re-designed by Taniguchi and Associates. A branch of the caf restaurant “Karafuneya”, also designed by Taniguchi and Associates offers a beautiful view of the museum’s west garden and is already a popular weekend lunch spot. Its rice omelet with demi-glace sauce and red wine by the glass are the favorites.
Near the Kyoto National Museum are the famous Sanjusangendo Temple and the somewhat less well-known Chishaku-in, which has beautiful gardens and a number of panel paintings that are National Treasures. Combined with a visit to Heisei Chishinkan, these three places together may become a new and rewarding Kyoto tourism route.
For more information about events at the Kyoto National Museum, visit its website at http://www.kyohaku.go.jp/eng/index.html
12th Okamura Design Space R (ODS-R) Exhibit: “Ripple”
By Akira Ono
At the New Otani Hotel Garden Court (Tokyo), Japanese furniture manufacturer Okamura Corporation annually sponsors an exhibit based on the concept of architects collaborating with artists from non-architecture genres. Okamura Corporation has a showroom at the New Otani Hotel’s Garden Court.
Each year, the manufacturer selects an architect one to partner with one other artist. The architect identifies a specific space or landscape to which he or she is drawn or finds challenging. The same architect chooses someone in a creative field to collaborate in creating an installation (spatial or landscape) for the event.
This year, Okamura Corporation selected architect Nobuaki Furuya for the 12th annual event, which was held for 18 days, from July 8 to 25. Mr. Furuya chose Ikebana (flower arranging) Master Tamao Sano of Kyoto’s Ginkakuji Temple (Jishouji) as the collaborating artist. Together, they created an exhibit that they named “Ripple”.
On a number of Mr. Furuya’s architectural projects—most notably Chino Cultural Complex in Nagano Prefecture—Nagata Acoustics has had the pleasure of providing the project’s acoustical design and consulting services. Mr. Furuya is one of the luminaries of Japanese architecture in our time.
Master Tamao Sano is Ginkakuji’s first Ikebana Master. In this role, she is in charge of the Ikebana arrangements for the temple’s spaces and rituals, serves as the head of the temple’s cultural study center and also teaches Ikebana.
Petals floating on water (from the Ripple exhibit)
During the 18 days of the exhibit, Master Sano gave four presentations. Surely, the quiet, still flowers of each of her Ikebana arrangements exuded incredible beauty, but I was most fascinated by how her graceful movements while creating the arrangements and touching water in the vessels made ripples that visually marked the passage of time as they expanded concentrically outward. I walked through the exhibit, experienced the spatial flow of the 5 locations adorned with Ikebana arrangements and marveled at how the parts of the exhibit—together with Master Sano's performance—became a single, wonderful work of art.
Rikkyo Gakuin (Niiza Campus) St. Paul Chapel Celebrates New Pipe Organ
By Chiaki Ishiwata
On July 12, 2014, a concert celebrated the installation of the new pipe organ at Rikkyo Gakuin’s St. Paul Chapel, on the school’s Niiza campus (Saitama Prefecture). The installation of the new pipe organ completed last winter in January, 2014. At the July concert, nearly every seat of every pew was taken; organist Makiko Hayashima performed on the new pipe organ and its tones filled the entire sanctuary.
Exterior of St. Paul’s Chapel, Niiza City, Saitama
New Pipe Organ Installed on Balcony
at Rear of Sanctuary
St. Paul Chapel, located directly inside the Niiza Campus main gate, serves as a symbol for the entire campus. It was designed by Czech-American architect Antonin Raymond and built in 1963. The chapel’s concrete structure has a unique architectural design that resembles a combination of vertical parabolas rising into the air, with the parabolas at the ends facing one direction while 3 parabolas in the middle of the building are perpendicular and centered compared with the ones at each end. Cut-outs in the concrete walls have colorful stained glass designed by Antonin Raymond’s wife, Noemi. At the front of the sanctuary, a parabola of blue stained glass makes for a beautiful and striking backdrop for the sanctuary’s cross. With the addition of the pipe organ, its colorful blue frame at the rear of the sanctuary mirrors the blue of the stained glass behind the chapel altar.
The new pipe organ replaced an older instrument that that the chapel had in the past. The previous organ deteriorated with age and also came to be considered too small an instrument for the sanctuary’s space. In 2010, the Rikkyo Gakuin initiated a project to replace the chapel’s pipe organ. Rikkyo Gakuin’s Director of Sacred Music and Chapel Choirmaster, Professor Scott Shaw and others selected the Massachusetts organ builder C.B. Fisk, Inc. to build the 24-stop, French Romantic style pipe organ.
The chapel’s old pipe organ was located at the front of the sanctuary behind the cross and hidden from view by saran fiber fabric, so that the pipe organ’s sound passed through the saran fiber fabric to reach the parishioners in the pews. To accommodate the larger size of the new pipe organ, a balcony was built at the rear of the sanctuary above the sanctuary entrance and the new pipe organ was installed on the new balcony.
From the room acoustics perspective, we consider a pipe organ to be a sound-absorbing object for low frequency sound and a pipe organ’s ability to absorb low range sounds is significant. When a pipe organ is installed in a room, we prevent a shortening of the room’s reverberation time by renovating the room interior to remove some of its existing sound absorbing elements. In this way, we balance the effect of the addition of the sound-absorbing pipe organ.
In the case of Rikkyo Gakuin’s St. Paul Chapel, when we visited the chapel and checked its reverberation characteristics, we found that the only element of the sanctuary structure with sound absorbing properties was the ceiling’s sprayed-on insulation material that only absorbs a small amount of medium and high-frequency sound.
I discussed the use of this insulation material with the client and learned that it was added for acoustical as well as insulation reasons. The design of worship spaces is complicated by the dual goals of rich reverberations for music and clarity of sound for the delivery of sermons. The sound-absorbing properties of the insulation material, which absorbs mid-range and high-frequency sound, was thought to contribute to improved clarity of sound during sermons, while at the same time improving the safety of the space.
When we considered the starting fundamentals of the existing chapel’s space, including its large spatial volume and the long reverberation time, together with the benefits of the ceiling’s insulation material and the difficulty of removing it, as well as its benefit of improved clarity of amplified speech, we came to the overall conclusion that this element’s benefits outweighed the possible offset of decreased sound absorption that might be achieved by removing the insulation material. In the end, we decided to leave the insulation material in place.
In addition to building a balcony for the new pipe organ, Rikkyo Gakuin took this opportunity to do other renovations, including waterproofing the roof and upgrades to the mechanical and electrical systems such as heating and air-conditioning, lighting, and sound reinforcement systems. Nagata Acoustics collaborated with the project’s architectural design firm, Manas Architects and Associates, to ensure that each aspect of the renovations maintained the chapel’s fine existing acoustical characteristics.
For specifics about the new pipe organ, please see the C.B. Fisk website’s page about the St. Paul Chapel pipe organ. Rikkyo Gakuin also has a web page (in Japanese) by Professor Shaw about the Niiza Campus pipe organ and the pipe organ in a chapel at the school’s Ikebukuro Campus.
Nagata Acoustics Inc.
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Tel: +81-3-5800-2671, Fax: +81-3-5800-2672
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Los Angeles, CA 90025, U.S.A.
Tel: +1-310-231-7878, Fax: +1-310-231-7816
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Tel: +33 (0)1 40 21 44 25, Fax: +33 (0)1 40 21 24 00