News 15-06 (No.330)
Issued : June 25, 2015
Dedication of Doshisha University Kyotanabe Kaido (Chapel)
By Toshiko Fukuchi
The building on the left houses the chapel,
named Kotoba-Kan (“Hall of Words”).
Across from it is the Hikari-Kan (“Hall of Light”)
exhibition space and archive repository.
On March 30, 2015, Doshisha University held a dedication ceremony for the new Kyotanabe Kaido buildings on Kyotanabe Campus. Kyotanabe Kaido’s pair of buildings face each other in an east-west orientation that has one building located directly to the west of the other one and a shared walkway that runs north-south between the 2 structures. The west building is a chapel with maximum seating capacity of 250 persons. The east building is an archival repository and exhibition hall reserved for information and materials about the university’s founder, Joseph Hardy Neesima (born Jo Niijima in Japan in 1843). The university named the chapel Kotoba-Kan (“Hall of Words”) and the exhibition building Hikari-Kan (“Hall of Light”).
<< Architectural Highlights and Project Architect >>
Neesima’s Sea seen in the foreground
with the prayer space behind it
The facades of both buildings are entirely made of glass from the ground to where they meet the roofs. Because of this design, even though these are two separate buildings, they seem like two wings of a single structure. Along the bottom edge of each of the building’s glass walls, the architect created a water feature named “Neesima’s Seas”. According to the architect, the continuously filled water features memorialize the university’s founder who left Japan and traveled across the oceans to the United States at a time when the Japanese government had a ban on leaving the country. Mr. Neesima risked his life to travel abroad where he studied and became a Christian. Later, Mr. Neesima returned to Japan and pursued a career as both educator and missionary.
Doshisha University selected the Kyotanabe Kaido project architect from 379 proposals submitted to an international competition the university held in 2013. The winning architect, Mr. Yoshihito Kashiwagi, is a Principal at Facet Studio Japan and Facet Studio Australia. He has a worldwide practice and can be considered a rising star among today’s younger Japanese architects.
Mr. Kashiwagi’s work extends beyond architecture to include furniture design. For the Doshisha project, in addition to serving as the project architect, he also designed the chapel pulpit and chairs, the exhibition hall cases and other interior features.
<< Nagata Acoustics’ Project Participation and Project Overview >>
Nagata Acoustics’ role on the project included acoustical consulting services for the room acoustics of the chapel and its sound isolation, as well as the design of the chapel’s sound system. Our responsibilities spanned all phases of the chapel project, including planning, design, construction and closeout.
Doshisha has two campuses in the Kyoto area. The original Imadegawa campus has an historic chapel that has been designated a Japanese Important Cultural Property and this campus also has other buildings for religious activities.
On the Kyotanabe campus, the new Kyotanabe Kaido is the first building constructed specifically for religious activities. However, as can be seen from the accompanying photo, the new chapel building doesn’t have a cross anywhere on its facade or rooftop and the architectural design doesn’t evoke a strong association with church architecture or imagery. This understated approach to the building’s purpose was intentional on the part of Mr. Kashiwagi. He reasoned that the Christian doctrine of Doshisha University is to give students moral education based on Christian principles so that these young people will go out into the world with consciences that have a clear moral compass. As students pass through the walkway between the two buildings they will surely glance into the chapel. When they do so, if the space entices them sufficiently that they decide to browse inside, Mr. Kashiwagi believes his design will have achieved its goal.
Most of the buildings on the Kyotanabe campus share the same sepia-toned brick exteriors as the buildings on the Imadegawa campus. Kyotanabe Kaido alone is clad in blue-gray tile. Mr. Kashiwagi proposed this color scheme as early as his submission to the 2013 competition. Nevertheless, I heard that obtaining the final approval for the novel color scheme was anything but easy. When visitors come to the campus and enter through its main gate, the blue-gray tiles of the Kyotanabe Kaido buildings come slowly into view amidst the older buildings without disrupting the campus’ overall ambience.
<< Kyotanabe Kaido Interior and Room Acoustics >>
A view of Hikari-Kan seen from Kotoba-Kan
The Kyotanabe Kaido chapel interior has a rectangular footprint, measuring 24 m (79 ft) wide and 14 m (46 ft) deep. The structural concrete ceiling has a height of 6.5 m (21 ft) at the front of the chapel and slopes upwards towards the rear of the chapel where it has a height of 7.3 m (24 ft). Directly below the entire concrete ceiling is a wood lattice system. The wood lattice system is installed parallel to the floor (without slope) at a height of 6 m, in keeping with the space’s rectangular architectural lines. At the front of the chapel—with the large glass wall as a backdrop—the chapel’s stone-veneer altar is installed as a raised platform. The rear of the chapel has an organ balcony where the university plans to install a pipe organ at a future date.
For the chapel’s room acoustics, the university required us to focus on two priorities. In addition to creating a relatively long reverberation time, the university wanted the room to also have excellent clarity of sound. Accordingly, our development of the chapel’s room acoustical design centered on determining and achieving the longest possible reverberation time that would not interfere with the room’s sound clarity.
The creation of rich sound reverberations in a space requires a high ceiling. The ceiling height of the chapel in Mr. Kashiwagi’s submission to the competition was greater than the height that was later decided during the planning phase of the project due to cost and other considerations. Luckily, however, because the chapel’s visible ceiling is a wood lattice system, from an acoustical perspective we can consider the height and spatial volume between the wood lattice and the concrete structural ceiling as part of the chapel’s space.
The wood lattice system uses two lengths of wood slats installed parallel to one another in an alternating pattern. From the acoustical viewpoint, a more random placement would have been desirable. We debated passionately with the architect regarding the details of the sizes of the lattice openings and the dimensions of the slats and cross pieces to obtain a design that creates the best acoustics.
Mr. Kashiwagi wanted the walls and ceilings of the chapel to have visually flat surfaces. We strategized about how to achieve our acoustical room objectives while using the architect’s design motif. The side walls of the chapel appear to be composed of blocks and each block has a hollow, square cut-out at its center. The entire side wall of blocks has a non-textured, flat surface. This design gave us concern that the flat concrete surface behind the square openings of the blocks might cause flutter echoes.
In addition to preventing flutter echoes we wanted our design of the side walls to be beneficial to obtaining rich acoustics in the chapel by promoting sound diffusion. To meet both the echo mitigation and sound diffusion objectives, we installed a grid of varying height against the concrete surface that is behind the side wall of hollow blocks.
At the rear of the chapel’s main, street-level floor, we installed a sound absorbing system with wood ribbing. On the second floor, where the future pipe organ will be installed, we gave the exposed concrete of the rear wall a textured finish. Both the first and second floor portions of the rear wall are parallel to the chapel’s glass façade on the opposite side of the room.
<< The Chapel’s Acoustical Characteristics >>
After the completion of construction, we measured the sound reverberation time in the completed chapel and obtained 1.7 seconds (with the room empty, at 500 Hz). This calculates to a reverberation time of 1.3 seconds with all of the chapel’s seats filled. In particular, the lower octaves have a comparatively long reverberation characteristic; this creates a satisfying experience for listeners.
As for our concern about the possibly negative effects of the chapel’s parallel surfaces, we successfully mitigated them and the chapel is free of any undesirable echoes.
<< Sound System, Excellent Clarity of Speech and Early Activities in the Chapel >>
We initially planned to install loudspeakers on the 8 white columns that flank the center of the chapel. However, because these columns play an important role in the chapel’s interior architectural design, the architect and others did not want the loudspeakers attached to them. Instead, we installed the loudspeakers in dispersed locations above the ceiling’s wood lattice system.
When we validated the chapel’s clarity of speech performance characteristic in the completed hall, we were pleased to confirm that speech can be heard clearly throughout the space.
After the chapel’s dedication, the chapel’s calendar quickly added a regular chapel hour, lectures and university choral club meetings. I have not yet had the pleasure of listening to a concert in the chapel but I’m told that the acoustics are quickly earning a fine reputation.
The distinctive architecture of the chapel sets it apart from the ordinary image of a sanctuary. Inside the chapel, the architecture creates the extraordinary atmosphere of a space separated from the mundane. When I step inside this chapel, I can see the ordinary world through the large glass wall of the chapel’s façade and at the same time I sense my breathing becoming quiet and calm. When students enter this space, perhaps they will connect more deeply with the founding spirit of their school.
MUSIC FESTIVAL Argerich's Meeting Point in Beppu and Its New Focal Point:
"Shiiki presents Argerich’s Haus"
By Kosuke Suzuki
Some 1,000 km southwest of Tokyo, on Japan’s Kyushu Island, a number of classical music festivals have long running traditions of 20 years or more. Among them, Music Festival Argerich's Meeting Point in Beppu, with pianist Martha Argerich at its helm as General Director, has the distinction of being an international festival that bears the name of a currently active world-class musician.
An advertisement at Oita Airport
Music Festival Argerich's Meeting Point in Beppu holds most of its concerts at Beppu City’s International Convention Center (“B-Con Plaza”) and iichiko Culture Center. The festival has also held concerts far away from Beppu City, for example in Tokyo, Japan and South Korea. Every year, as the start of the festival approaches, the streets and buildings of Beppu City become decorated with posters and banners in the festival’s signature red, white and blue colors. This year, the entire city seemed to be plastered with these colors everywhere because of this year’s exciting opening of the new “Shiiki presents Argerich’s Haus”.
The new facility opened on May 15, 2015, with the new venue’s dedication ceremony and inaugural concert as highlighted events of this year’s music festival. Ms. Argerich herself participated in the inaugural performance, joining with 4 young musicians to perform Schumann’s Quintet in E-flat Major Op. 44.
<< Overview of the Shiiki presents Argerich’s Haus >>
It is located across from B-Con Plaza on the north side. The new venue is a single story structure. Its simply named “Salon” performing arts space is at the center of the building, both physically and from the programming perspective.
Salon has a room configuration measuring approximately 13.5 m on each of 4 sides to form a square. The square is set in an simple floor layout. Salon’s north and west sides connect to a backstage area and piano storage space. The south side connects to an office, and the east side connects to a foyer and entrance.
Salon is a small, flat-floored room that accommodates up to 150 people. It has a white ceiling and walls abundantly panelled in solid cedar sourced locally in Oita Prefecture. The interior finishes create a feeling of intimacy and—even though this hall is small in size—the space doesn’t feel confining.
<< Project Funding and Team >>
Finance entrepreneur and Kyushu native Mr. Masakazu Shiiki, who has been a patron of the Argerich Festival from its beginning, provided the entire donation for the construction of the facility. A consortium of Higashikyushu Architectural & Engineering, Hiroshi Mizuno Architects Co., Ltd. and Saiki Kensetsu created the architectural design. Saiki Kensetsu served as the project’s general contractor. We joined the project in the latter half of 2013 at the request of Hiroshi Mizuno Architects. Our scope of work focused primarily on Salon’s room acoustics.
<< Salon’s Programming and the Key Goal of Our Room Acoustics Design >>
Salon has non-fixed seating that allows the arrangement to be configured to the needs of each event. For example, the audience seating can encircle performers or the audience and the stage can be set up facing each other in a more typical theatre configuration.
One use of Salon will be for “Pinocchio Concerts” that have been part of the Argerich Music Festival programming. These concerts target children as their primary audience. Children who attend these concerts are encouraged to sit around the piano while they listen to the performances.
In our room acoustics design, we sought to create a space that has equally fine acoustics with any arrangement of performers and audience seating. The performers should be able to locate themselves in any part of the space and have the audience sit in any configuration around, beside or across from the performers.
<< Room Acoustics Design >>
The first focus of our room acoustics design involved the room’s ceiling height. From the acoustical perspective, to create ample acoustics for piano and small ensemble performances we want a high ceiling and a large spatial volume. If a small room also has a low ceiling, it’s easy for the piano’s large sounds to become uncomfortably overpowering to nearby listeners. In addition, 150 persons would introduce too much sound absorption, decreasing the reverberations and the quality of the acoustics inside the room.
At the site, environmental considerations restrict the building height to not more than 15 m. Digging below grade to achieve a high ceiling height was also impractical. We accepted the constraint of a 10 m high ceiling and continued with our design work to research the best shape for the room.
We worked closely with one of the architects—Mr. Mizuno—through many consultations, sharing our research and evaluations of each room configuration option. We studied which combinations of performer seating arrangements and room configurations would produce the best densities of sound reflections. For each proposed option, we also checked that the ceiling, floor, and the side walls would not form parallel surfaces. Parallel surfaces often produce undesirable flutter echoes.
At its maximum point, the ceiling measures 9 m high. It has an inverted pyramid with a depth of about 50 cm. The embedded ceiling lighting creates the visual image of a ceiling fan extending out from the center of the pyramid.
Around the perimeter of the room, at a height of about 5 m from the floor, we added eaves that protrude about 1 m from the walls and different design motifs are assinged for the wall portions above and below the eaves. The upper portion of each side wall slants slightly upward and downward. The direction of the angles can also be seen in the slope of the building exterior’s side walls.
Along the lower portions of the side walls we created vertical folds (or angles) to keep opposing walls from being parallel. We avoided any unintentional repeats or periodicity of the design by specifying a slightly different angle for each fold.
The only parallel surface condition left in Salon is between the eaves and the floor. The room may look like the interior has a cube shape and this may be a valid general description, but at a more precise and detailed level Salon has a very complex shape.
<< Sound Isolation and Sound Absorption Aspects >>
The Salon structure was built primarily with reinforced concrete in order to isolate the interior from exernal noise and to keep sound produced in the space from leaking to the outside. The ceiling and upper portions of the side walls are constructed of gypsum board sprayed with a typical Japanese “lithing” finish.
The lower portions of the side walls have an assortment of short cedar panels of four different thicknesses arranged randomly across the walls’ surfaces. From the floor to a height of 2 m, we specified that the wood pieces be connected using a mortise and tenon method to minimize the gaps. Above that height, at random locations, we inserted some small strips of cedar to intentionally create some gaps in the surface and add sound absorption materials behind.
<< Sound System Location >>
From the acoustical perspective Salon’s stage area and seating can be placed anywhere in the room. Nevertheless, during the design process the client acknowledged that one particular orientation would likely be used most of the time because the backstage area is behind the west wall and the foyer is outside the east wall.
For Salon’s fixed AV equipment we used the most likely use case to decide the locations of these items. We placed the loudspeakers for speech amplificaton and the projection screen on the west wall. We also specified a more robust sound absorption system for the east wall. The additional sound absorption prevents delayed sound reflections from becoming feedback propagated back to the performers and microphones.
<< Measuring the Completed Project and Schedule Constraint >>
At the completion of construction we obtained a measurement of 1.7 seconds (at 500 Hz) for Salon’s reverberation time when the room is empty. We took the measurement before the arrival of Salon’s chairs. In this acoustical environment—the liveliest situation for this space—clarity of speech was excellent everywhere in the room and there was no muffled sound anywhere.
Chairs are the most sound absorbing element in Salon’s space. The addition of the chairs surely affect the room’s acoustics. I wish that I could have again verified Salon’s acoustic measurements with the chairs installed and before the opening ceremony and concert, but schedule constraints made this infeasible.
It is advisable for a hall project to schedule a duration of at least 2 or 3 months from the completion of construction to the official opening. During this time, in addition to measuring the acoustics of a venue, we perform fine tuning of the acoustics and sound system and do other preparations before the venue begins daily operational use. In Salon’s case, the entire preparatory duration was just 2 weeks.
On the day of Salon’s opening and inaugural concert, staffs and the stage crew were busy inside Shiiki presents Argerich’s Haus all day long. In the midst of noises and distractions, the members of the piano quintet rehearsed in the new Salon. I was able to listen to the rehearsal for a brief span of perhaps 3 or 4 minutes. Thankfully, this made me feel reassured that the acoustics are fine.
<< Salon’s Incredible Sense of Presence >>
Since I was not able to attend the inaugural concert I will share what someone who did attend it told me afterwards. In her words, listening as a member of the audience, she felt transported to the stage. She said she experienced the music as if she was sitting right next to the performers. When the performers changed the cadence of their breathing, she noticed the change. When the ensemble pulled together as a team for ensemble playing, she could feel their concentration and tension. She said that her experience was filled with a sense of presence not possible when sitting in a large concert hall.
Ms. Argerich’s friend and the music festival’s general producer, Ms. Kyoko Ito, had let me know that Ms. Argerich really likes the new space. Apparently, the first time Ms. Argerich played in Salon, she at first thought that the acoustics were a bit “dry”. As she continued to play, her impression changed and she continued playing solo for a long time, obviously enjoying herself. When Ms. Ito told me this story I was truly thrilled with happiness.
Mr. Shiiki and others involved in the the Shiiki Argerich Haus project have expressed the hope that this new venue will inspire the younger generation to participate in and support funding for Japan’s growing “salon” culture of small, private performing arts venues. The new space offers many possibilities for programs that will attract audiences of all generations. I look forward to hearing about future creative and wonderful performances at Salon.
Beppu City is known for its hot springs. Travelers to this city can now immerse themselves both in rejuvenating hot spring waters and the intimate music experience that Shiiki presents Argerich’s Haus’ Salon makes possible.
The website of Shiiki presents Argerich’s Haus is here.
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
1990 S. Bundy Drive, Suite 795
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: +1-310-231-7878, Fax: +1-310-231-7816
75, avenue Parmentier
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 21 44 25, Fax: +33 (0)1 40 21 24 00