News 14-10 (No.322)
Issued : October 25, 2014
Shanghai Symphony Hall Opens
By Dr. Yasuhisa Toyota
Photo-1 Shanghai Symphony Hall
Photo-2 Shanghai Symphony Hall
Shanghai Symphony Hall, which I last wrote about in this newsletter’s October, 2009 issue, opened on September 9, 2014. The project began in 2008. At first, the project scope encompassed only the rebuilding of the orchestra’s rehearsal room. That plan grew to include seating for an audience of 600 to 800 persons and then expanded to seating for 1,200. Instead of a rehearsal room, the project became a splendid and well-appointed concert hall building with two halls and support spaces. The name of the building also changed to its current Shanghai Symphony Hall. With the opening of the hall this autumn, the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra now has a new home hall where it will perform most of its concerts and rehearsals. Exterior views are shown in Photo-1 and Photo-2.
In August and September of 2008, a competition was held to select the project architect. Shanghai-based Isozaki + HuQian Partners won the competition and became the project’s architect. I had the honor of participating in the competition as a member of the selection committee, so it’s fair to say that I’ve been closely involved with this project from its inception.
At a very early stage of the conceptual phase of the project the Shanghai Symphony Orchestra directly retained Nagata Acoustics to be in charge of the hall’s acoustical design and to serve as the acoustical consultant during all phases of the project for all acoustics-related needs, including managing the implementation of the design and on-site evaluations and measuring activities.
<< The Concert Hall >>
Figure-1 Plan of the Concert Hall
Figure-2 Longitudinal Section of the Concert Hall
Figure-3 Cross Section of the Concert Hall
Photo-3 Interior of the Concert Hall
Photo-4 Interior of the Concert Hall
At the beginning of the architect’s work on the project, the client, the architect and Nagata Acoustics discussed the basic hall configuration options and agreed that the best configuration for this hall is the so-called vineyard shape, with seating on all sides of the stage and much of the seating divided into terraced blocks of seating. (The blocks of seating inspired this configuration’s “vineyard” name.) The vineyard configuration enables us to design a hall where the audience seating is closer to the stage than is possible with other configurations. The audience’s physical proximity to the performers increases the sense of intimacy in the hall.
Plan and section views of the hall are shown in Figure-1, Figure-2 and Figure-3. The hall has a total spatial volume of 20,000 m3 (706,000 ft3), which is a rather large spatial volume for a hall of 1,200 seats. The ceiling and the panels that protrude along the side walls are constructed of a wood product with a mesh-patterned finish that creates the acoustically needed sound diffusion that we desired for this hall. The concert hall interior is shown in Photo-3 and Photo-4.
Above the stage and audience seating, a ceiling panel hang from the big ceiling at a distance of about 4-5 m (12-15 ft). Thus, the space above the ceiling panel is directly connected with the auditorium space, and it is working as a part of the entire big air-volume, acoustically.
The design allows for a layer of sound-absorbing glass wool to be installed between the ceiling and the panel suspended from it. The insertion of sound-absorbing glass wool above the ceiling panel was scheduled for the very last stage of construction and, because the process to add the glass wool is a rather easy one, we decided to wait to add any glass wool until we measured and evaluated the acoustics of the completed hall. Then we tested the addition of glass wool in small increments while listening to the orchestra rehearse in the hall.
The reverberation time at mid-range frequencies (in an empty hall) measured 2.7 seconds, which is a somewhat long reverberation time compared with the value of 2.3 seconds that we predicted based on calculations during our design work. In our design, we prioritized the twin goals of rich acoustics and clarity of sound. These two acoustical goals are often considered to be in conflict with each other. Nevertheless, in this hall we achieved high performance levels for both of these goals.
Based on my first-hand listening to the orchestra during its early rehearsals in the hall, I could truly sense the richness of the hall’s long reverberation while I simultaneously noticed the excellent clarity of the hall’s acoustics. I was able to clearly hear and distinguish the sound of each of the instruments in the ensemble. Because the design of the ceiling makes it relatively easy to add sound-absorbing material even after the completion of construction, we decided to have the hall open with its long reverberation time and defer the addition of any glass wool. Currently, the hall’s reverberation time measures 2.7 seconds (at mid-range frequencies, in an empty hall), and has a calculated reverberation time of 2.3 seconds at the same frequencies when the hall is fully occupied.
<< The Hall for Chamber Music and More >>
Figure-4 Plan of the Chamber Hall
Figure-5 Longitudinal Section of the Chamber Hall
Figure-6 Cross Section of the Chamber Hall
Photo-5 Interior of the Chamber Hall
Photo-6 Interior of the Chamber Hall
The 1,200-seat hall truly deserves the “concert hall” appellation. Likewise, the building’s 400-to-600-seat small hall deserves its Chamber Hall name. The Chamber Hall was included in the project because of the strong request from the orchestra and, while this hall’s acoustics and design prioritize the hall’s use for chamber music concerts, this hall also works well as a multipurpose venue. Plan and cross-section views are shown in Fig. 4 - Fig. 6. And also, the chamber hall interior is shown in Photos 4 and 5.
This hall has a basically rectangular shape in the traditional, so-called, “shoebox” style. The hall’s main level (on the first floor) has an entirely flat floor including both the stage and the audience seating. The main floor is with an electrically operated system of mechanisms for raising and lowering portions of the floor. This riser system divides the entire main floor into 12 sections and enables numerous options for configuring the space.
The hall has two levels of balconies along the side walls and at one end of the hall. We designed these balconies and a fourth level directly above them to maximize their configurability and adaptability for multiple uses. The existence of the balconies can even be camouflaged from view when not in use. The lower (second floor) balcony has freestanding folding chairs for seating. The seats can be entirely removed to create an empty, flat-floored balcony. Likewise, the upper (third floor) balcony also has the same kind of adaptable seating and, in addition, can also be used as a technical balcony. To hide these balconies from view when not in use, large, wood grid panels attach to the front openings of the balconies and close off the openings. Also, the fourth floor space directly above the upper balcony has both walls and a floor with the same wood grids which provide acoustic transparency. Thus, the hall can be used in many creative and practical ways.
As a basic piece of equipment for varying this hall’s sound reverberation characteristic, we installed sound-absorbing curtains in the fourth floor space that can be opened or closed. The hall is well-equipped with sound system equipment and loudspeakers, and all of this equipment can be operated from behind-the-scenes locations not visible to the audience. The variety of equipment, functionalities and configuration options of this hall will enable it to well fulfill both its chamber music venue role and its role as a multipurpose hall.
<< Some Other Project Details >>
The cost of the entire new building, including the above facilities of the 1,200-seat concert hall and 400-to-600-seat chamber music hall, plus the building’s lobby and the various meeting, office and support rooms for the orchestra’s administration and other activities completed at a cost of about 630 million yuan (US$103 million). Because the project site is located in a prime, central Shanghai location near embassies and consulates, the building’s exterior architectural design was constrained by height restrictions and a need to appropriately complement the surrounding neighborhood. As a result, the building has 4 floors below ground and just two stories above ground level.
From the audiences’ perspective, the hall location has the benefit of proximity to multiple underground train lines. For example, the tracks of the closest subway line run just 15 m. (49 ft) from the hall structure. However, this situation that benefits audiences also meant that from the start of this project we needed to give serious attention to the sound and vibration isolation design. After considering multiple design options, we applied the same approach to both the concert and chamber music halls. Our anti-vibration design uses springs under a floating structural system to achieve the desired level of sound isolation. The hall’s sound isolation design will be reported in the next issue of this newsletter.
RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY TOKYO 2014
By Kosuke Suzuki
Red Bull energy drink is as well known in Japan as in the more than 100 other countries around the world where it maintains a strong market share. The company promotes the brand and its slogan “Red Bull gives you wings” in part by heavily supporting extreme sports and music events, a strategy that has given Red Bull ubiquitously strong brand name recognition.
Red Bull Music Academy is a music event held annually by Red Bull. The event focuses on extraordinarily talented, young musical artists and takes place in a different country and city each year which lasts about a month long. Since the event’s first year in 1998, the host cities have included Berlin, So Paolo, Cape Town, Melbourne, and New York among others.
<< Red Bull Music Academy Tokyo 2014 >>
As this year’s event title indicates, Tokyo was this year’s location. Red Bull Music Academy Tokyo 2014 began on Sunday, October 12, 2014 and ends on Friday, November 14. The month-long event’s line-up includes lectures, studio sessions, concerts and other special sessions and gatherings.
Red Bull Music Academy Tokyo 2014 brings some of the world’s best known music performers and recording engineers as "tutors" for about 60 “students” selected from more than 6,000 applicants. This year, the selected students came from 34 countries and include two young artists from Japan.
Workshops, lectures and studio sessions, as well as recording and editing sessions are held at facilities built for the event inside the Red Bull Japan office. In addition, at numerous Tokyo venues, the visiting participants perform concerts, give workshops, hold art installations, and many other events are open to the general public.
<< The Academy’s New Facilities >>
Palette Ceiling of the Session Studio
"The Engawa" Surrounding Bedroom Studios
The facilities for Red Bull Music Academy Tokyo 2014 were designed as renovation of the Red Bull Japan office. The newly built facilities were a recording studio in first floor, 8 bedroom studios in fourth floor, a lecture hall, a lounge and a radio studio in fifth floor, and a dedicated office for the Academy on sixth floor. The overall interior design was done by Kengo Kuma & Associates, with Mr. Imar Sanmarti of Acousthink who is the acoustical consultant for almost all Red Bull Music Academy studios, oversaw the acoustical design. Nittobo Acoustic Engineering was in charge of the construction, and Nagata Acoustics participated on the project in cooperation with Kengo Kuma & Associates as the local acoustical consultant during the design phase.
The recording studio includes a control room and a live session room with a dead drum booth and a vocal booth. The entire recording studio implemented an anti-vibration floating floor structural system and is compatible with professional use. This studio also had its new electrical power supply only for the acoustical equipment to prevent noise, and new HVAC system were also introduced for more quietness.
The 8 bedroom studios are clustered together in the middle surrounded by "engawa", a corridor representing an open space as the border of inside and outside which is seen in a typical Japanese architecture. These studios have computers and many electronic musical equipment deployed for the participants of the academy to use freely during the period. The rooms are built on the existing free access floor with steel frames.
As for the rooms on the fifth floor, the three spaces have different use and prevention of acoustical crosstalk was needed. Unlike the bedroom studios, the walls between the spaces are double layer of dry walls built slab to slab for a sound insulation purpose.
<< Project Schedule and Long-Term Use of the Implementation >>
The project’s construction—including removal of the existing interior elements—followed the shortest feasible schedule of 3 month’s duration. The work completed on time thanks to incredibly well-organized sequencing of the construction team.
After the Red Bull Academy Tokyo 2014 event, Red Bull Japan plans to continue operating the first floor studio as a rental studio. The fourth floor and fifth floor spaces will be turned into conference rooms and other office space, as intended in the project’s original planning.
For more information on Red Bull Academy Tokyo 2014 events, please see the website below.
RED BULL MUSIC ACADEMY TOKYO 2014： http://www.redbullmusicacademy.jp/en/events/
Tsuda Hall Plans to Stop Concert Hall Rental Operations
By Satoru Ikeda
Yet another Tokyo concert hall will soon close its doors. As of April, 2015, Tsuda Hall will stop use of the hall as a rental concert venue. It will also stop rentals of its conference room. After March of next year, the future of the building itself is in question. The announcement can be seen on the hall's home page and some readers may also know about this shocking news from reports in the media. The hall's concert calendar ends abruptly at the end of March, 2015.
Tsuda Hall opened in October, 1988. Located across from JR Sendagaya Station, Tsuda Hall was built by the foundation for Tsuda Jukukai Institute on the campus of Tsuda English Institute, Tsuda School of Business, etc. The hall commemorates the 40th anniversary of the foundation's founding. In addition to being used by the school as its auditorium for ceremonies and large lectures, the hall's convenient location made it a coveted venue for performances by chamber ensembles and recitals. The hall has seating for up to 490 persons and is the main facility in its building, which also has a conference room, space used by the school's alumni association and a restaurant. The architectural firm Maki and Associates designed the building.
When Tsuda Hall was planned and built, Tokyo still had a dearth of small concert venues. I remember the venues for recitals and chamber music: Ueno's Tokyo Bunka Kaikan Small Hall, Ishibashi Memorial Hall in Ueno Park, Musashino Civic Cultural Hall's Small Hall, and Casals Hall (the only one of these that, at the time, had plans to install a pipe organ and also the only one of these four that has already closed). In particular, when Casals Hall opened in 1987—just one year before the opening of Tsuda Hall—Casals Hall's opening quickly became the focus of media and classical music lovers' attention. Casals Hall was Tokyo's first standalone chamber music and recital venue built in Tokyo’s heyday of concert hall construction.
The classical music environment in Tokyo made Tsuda Hall's arrival an exciting addition to the Tokyo classical music scene, especially because the foundation's vision for the hall called for the hall to be more than just a location for academic activities. The foundation aimed to bring both a wide range of academic and cultural events into one space, giving both equal importance. In 2008, this foundation disbanded and responsibility for the hall passed to Tsuda College.
I recall the acoustical design challenges for this project of how to achieve both high clarity of sound for seminars and ceremonies, and the abundant reverberation desired for classical music. We began by deciding to maximize the hall's rich sounding acoustics to the extent that doing so would not negatively impact the hall's clarity of speech, and we also decided to place a high priority on installing a robust sound speech amplification system.
The exterior of Tsuda Hall—with its facade that looks as if it is wrapped around the building's curved roof—surely makes a strong visual architectural statement. From an acoustical perspective, the interior is equally—if not more--impressive. The special shape of the ceiling promotes abundant early reflections that are key to clarity of sound, the curves of the side wall creates serenity in its atmosphere which also soften glazing reflection sounds that are typical to small sized halls, the particularly designed seating which you could sit for hours comfortably, and so on.
In many ways, this hall combines tried-and-true good design techniques with lots of originality. Some of the innovative interior design aspects include three dimensionally curved surface with parabolic sections that form the hall's ceiling and side walls made with precast truss work and a textured finish embellished with marble fragments. On this project, we worked closely with the architect to achieve a true architectural and acoustical gem. We aimed for a hall with a certain softness to the acoustics and Mr. Fumihiko Maki also created an interior with curves and a soft, serene ambiance. Some readers may think it inappropriate for the acoustical consultant to boast about the beauty and serenity of a space we helped build, but given Tsuda Hall's current situation, I feel that now is the time to remind our readers of this hall’s special qualities.
Another important feature of Tsuda Hall's operations is its professional hall management organization founded before the opening of the hall. This team will be severely impacted when Tsuda Hall stops using for concert. Across more than two decades, the hall's professional staff have planned and produced a corpus of concerts that consistently sparkled without ostentation. When the hall first opened, the organization limited concerts to no more than 4 per month to restrict regulatory and systemic limitation as the educational facility. The hall's management office planned performances and events that showcased the hall's acoustics. Concerts with talks, symposia and speech contests dotted the hall's calendar next to recitals, chamber ensemble performances and music competitions. The hall's management planned or lent support to many of these events. In the short space of this article, I unfortunately cannot even begin to list the names of Tsuda Hall's many memorable performers and event series. In addition to losing the availability of the physical premises of Tsuda Hall, ending the hall's use as a concert hall will mean that the hall's professional management office will be disbanded and the individuals who comprise this expert concert management organization will go their separate ways. This is a sad turn of events, indeed.
The hall's website (in Japanese only) now prominently displays information about the end of the hall's use for concert rentals, but it also still has the information about the hall's wonderful balance of academic and concert use functionalities and the site still proclaims the excellence of the hall's environment for these purposes. I've heard that the college will renovate significant parts of its campus and that it would be too expensive to continue to maintain the existing Tsuda Hall.
Yet I think some questions remain. Shouldn't the value of an institution with a quarter century of history be considered when making this decision? Given the hall's unique appropriateness for both academic use and concerts, aren't there still ways to use the hall’s dual functionalities? Demolition is an easy choice. However, demolishing the building will also mean demolishing the cultural assets built through 26 years of creativity and effort. I wish for the decision-makers to think about their commitment to fostering culture and the arts. They should devise a way to keep this valuable institution and build on its worthy history.
Nagata Acoustics Inc.
Hongo Segawa Bldg. 3F, 2-35-10 Hongo
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Tel: +81-3-5800-2671, Fax: +81-3-5800-2672
2130 Sawtelle Blvd., Suite 308
Los Angeles, CA 90025, U.S.A.
Tel: +1-310-231-7878, Fax: +1-310-231-7816
75, avenue Parmentier
75011 Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 21 44 25, Fax: +33 (0)1 40 21 24 00