News 16-03 (No.339)
Issued : March 25, 2016
Harbin Concert Hall Completed and Operationally Functional
By Dr. Keiji Oguchi
Construction of the concert hall in China’s Harbin City completed at the end of 2014 and operational use of the hall has begun about 1 year later. This project was developed by a team of architects that included ISOZAKI+HuQian Partners and Shanghai Xian Dai Architectural Design Group, plus Nagata Acoustics as acoustical consultant. Together, the team won a competition for the project that Harbin City held at the end of 2010. (I wrote about being awarded the project in our April, 2011 newsletter.)
The exterior skin of the building has a glass design inspired by the imagery of ice crystals. Inside, the structure houses a 1,200-seat main hall, a 400-seat small hall and various ancillary rooms—such as a rehearsal rooms and administrative offices—for Harbin Symphony Orchestra. The ancillary rooms as well as the building’s maintenance rooms occupy the ground-floor level. The main hall and small hall begin on the second floor and continue to the uppermost, fourth floor.
<< The 1,200-Seat Main Hall >>
Cross Section View (1)
Cross Section View (2)
Main Hall Interior (1)
Main Hall Interior (2)
The stage of the main hall is on the second floor. The hall’s audience seating rises above and around the stage in a vineyard-style configuration. At the front of the hall a Ruffatti pipe organ (with 3 manuals and 41 stops) graces the center of the front wall, with audience seating on either side of it. All audience patrons first arrive to the third floor. From the third floor, patrons with seats on the second and fourth floors can proceed to their seats via staircases connected to those floors.
The most distinctive feature of the hall is surely its skin of glass "ice crystals". These glass surfaces also serve as the interior walls of the main hall. The design can be likened to a ship floating inside a glass box.
Harbin experiences extremely cold winters (the city’s latitude is similar to such cities as Lyon, Montreal, Portland OR and Japan’s Wakkanai at the northern tip of Hokkaido), so the glass skin of the new building required effective thermal insulation. The building’s design implemented two layers of glass: a double-glazed, 70 mm. (2.8")-thick glass layer for the exterior glass panels and laminated, 27 – 43 mm. (1.1 - 1.2")-thick glass for the interior layer, with air space between the two layers that brings the total thickness to 800 mm. (31.5"). The glass skin system provides both thermal insulation and sound isolation for up to about 60 dB at mid-range frequencies. Because the building stands in the center of a property that extends 200 m. (656 ft) in the east-west direction, the 2 layers of glass provide sufficient sound isolation between the interior halls and the building exterior.
For the portions of the interior glass that are within sightlines of the stage, we specified glass manufactured with a 3-dimensional pattern of diamond-shaped cones to soften the strong sound reflections that these glass panels would produce. We also used this design for the sound diffusing elements on the walls at the front of each audience seating block terrace. (Here the material is, however, wood.)
From the hall’s ceiling, myriad acrylic LED pendant lamps create a unique architectural lighting design that—as one might expect—enhances sound diffusion as well as providing light and beauty to the hall. Sometimes referred to as the hall’s chandelier, the large number of individual, hanging units are suspended in a seemingly random pattern and each unit has an LED light embedded at the top edge of the acrylic. The top edge of each unit shines with a white light that produces the look of glistening slivers of ice scattered across the ceiling. During our design of the hall’s interior room acoustics we studied and tested the sound diffusing aspects of the chandelier using a 1/10 scale model (as we described in the October, 2012 newsletter).
<< 400-Seat Small Halll >>
Small Hall Interior
The small hall is located inside the 4 structural columns that form the building’s core. This hall has a shoebox configuration and a flat floor. Along 4 sides of the walls, 2 tiers of balconies offer additional seating. The dimensions of this hall are nearly the same as the dimensions of our design for the Chamber Hall of Shanghai Symphony Hall. (Shanghai Symphony Hall opened in September 2014 and we wrote about it in the October, 2014 newsletter).
The flat floor of the small hall can be freely configured to place the stage and the tiered seating platforms in any arrangement because both the stage and the seating platforms have wheel mechanisms that enable them to be easily moved about the room. The 2 tiers of balconies also have movable seats and a patron can move the seat very close to the banister of the balcony’s pony wall for a superb view of the stage below.
Instead of adding a typical lighting and sound control booth with a glass window for visibility to the hall interior and stage, the small hall’s lighting and sound controls are located at one side of the second balcony. The system includes a controls table and peripherals that do not generate noise and these devices can be brought out into the balcony area so that the lighting and sound technicians can operate them while viewing and listening a live performance.
<< Looking forward to a Future Visit to the Hall >>
Construction of Harbin Concert Hall completed in the end of 2014. At the start of 2015, the pipe organ was assembled on site and then tuned. We timed our acoustical measuring and fine tuning work to begin as soon as the pipe organ installation completed. The reverberation time of the main hall measures 2 seconds and the small hall’s reverberation time measures 1.9 seconds (both in empty hall conditions).
Harbin Concert Hall planned a May inaugural with Finland’s Lahti Symphony Orchestra as guest orchestra and a program of joint concerts with Harbin Symphony Orchestra. However, due to some issues with final construction permits and related matters, the formal opening of the hall was postponed and these concerts were held for privately invited audiences. Thereafter, proper filings were submitted and the hall has formally become operational though the official date of the formal opening remains to be set.
Because of the situation regarding the formal opening, there have not yet been many opportunities to listen to concerts in the halls. Nevertheless, thanks to a number of test performances on the pipe organ and rehearsals in the main hall by the Harbin Symphony Orchestra, I have been able to confirm the clarity of acoustics. The hall delivers the sound of each instrument clearly every seat. In addition, I have enjoyed warmly sounded acoustics of the hall. The pipe organ voicer, orchestra conductor and the symphony’s musicians also report that even subtle nuances of music played in the main hall can be heard at every seat. When the hall’s operational status enables the calendaring of frequent performances, I hope to visit and sojourn long enough to experience and enjoy for myself the sound of this new hall.
A Look at the Japan Measurement Act
By Fumiaki Sakamaki
I wonder if our readers know about the Japan Measurement Act. This law affects the daily life of every Japanese person, yet many of us may be unfamiliar with this codification of how things should be measured. METI—the Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry—is responsible for the administration of this law. As we go about our commercial interactions and other aspects of life, we rely on sharing commonly agreed standards for weights and measures. For example, if one vendor obtained a different result from another vendor when measuring the same amount of a material or item, that would cause a problem.
We speak generally about measuring things and easily use terms other than specific units of measure, such as "length", "mass", "area", and "volume". In the technical professions, references to qualities of products that relate to measurements—such as "pressure", "concentration" and "radioactivity" abound.
In the field of acoustics, we often work with measurements of amounts of physical phenomena. Examples are "sound power", "sound pressure level", and "vibration acceleration level" among many other measurements we use. In the paragraphs below I will share with our readers some of the history of unique Japanese units of measure and the currently employed methodology for measurement used in Japan.
<< Japan’s Indigenous Units of Measure >>
Japan has a long history of official codification of units of measure that dates back to the Taiho Code promulgated in the year 701 C.E., during Japan’s Asuka Period. The Japanese unit of measure for length known as the "shaku" (still used today for some traditional products and situations) and the "toh" unit of measure for volume appear in this code together with explanations about methods of conversion to and from these units of measure. It is thought that the shaku unit of measure came to Japan from China and that the implementation of a law in the form of the Taiho Code became necessary as the use of this imported unit of measure gained popularity.
A thousand years later, in the Edo Period, Japan’s daimyo ("feudal lords") counted their worth and revenues in a unit of measure called the "koku", written with the Chinese character for "stone". The conversion to previous units was 1 koku = 10 toh = 1,000 go. Japan’s shaku-based, indigenous measuring system continued in use for well over 12 centuries into the Showa Era.
Even today, remnants of the indigenous measuring system remain. The "tsubo" is a unit of measure for a two-dimensional area, with 1 tsubo = slightly more than 1 sq. m. or 35.5 sq. ft. In construction and stagecraft some carpenters and other tradespeople still have the habit and preference of using a unit of measure known as the "ken", with 1 ken = 6 shaku = nearly 1.8 m. = slightly less than 6 ft.
<< The Metric System >>
Around the globe the system used by the greatest number of countries is the International System of Measurements (abbreviated "SI"). In general parlance, we call this the metric system. The metric system began in France in the eighteenth century. The system’s primary units of measure are the meter for length and the kilogram for weight. At the time the system was devised—in the eighteenth century—trading partners across countries lacked a common unit of measure for physical weight. The method of calculating a conversion between the measurements of different countries was complicated and problems arose trying to accomplish international trade transactions because inequalities of conversion often occurred.
To address the need for a consistent set of units of measure, in 1875, 17 nations signed the Treaty of the Metre. Japan became a signatory to the convention in 1885. Today, almost all of the world’s countries have adopted the metric system, with the exception of the United States and 2 other countries. In particular, use of the metric system has not permeated the United States, where yards, pounds and other units of measure specific to what is known as "the U.S. customary system" prevail.
<< Measurement Laws in Japan >>
Japan’s first official adoption of a modern measurement system occurred in 1891 with the enactment of Japan’s first Weights and Measures Law. This law made Japan’s indigenous, shaku-based units of measure the officially sanctioned ones to be used in the country. The law also regulated aspects of the production and manufacture of measuring devices. Thereafter, in order to align with many of the world’s countries that were adopting the metric system, in 1921 the law was revised to adopt the use of metric units of measure (though, in fact, use of the old shaku-based system continued to be an approved system for use until a designated end date).
In 1951, after the end of World War II, the Weights and Measures Law was completely rewritten and replaced by the enactment of a new Measurement Law. As with the previous law, the Measurement Law initially also sanctioned the use of the shaku-based system units of measure. However, in 1959, amendments to the Measurement Law made metric units of measure the sole approved units of measure and general commercial use of the shaku-based units of measure became prohibited.
In addition to specifying allowed units of measure, the Measurement Law also specifies regulations related to authorization of the manufacture, maintenance, sale and inspection of devices used for measuring. As a result of this law and its amendments, all business and individuals in Japan adopted the metric system. Reasonable methods for inspecting commercial measuring devices were implemented throughout the country.
In 1993, the Measurement Law underwent major revisions. Enough changes were made that the law is now referred to as the "Amended Measurement Law". Included in the provisions of the revised law are complete adoption of the International System of Measurements (SI) and a system for the traceability of measurement results.
<< Japan Calibration Service System >>
Japan’s measurements traceability system is called the Japan Calibration Service System (JCSS). It has an important function as part of the Amended Measurement Law. In Japan, measuring devices are calibrated using a standard device that ensures the measurement of the device is correct. At the site where a device is used (for example, at a factory), the measuring devices are calibrated against standard devices. If, in turn, the standard device was calibrated using an even more precise device, and if that more precise device had been calibrated by a device of yet higher precision and this process had been repeated until the calibration was done against a national standard device (known as the National Primary Standard), then the site (in this case the factory) has ensured the traceability of its measuring devices. When certified based on this process, the measurements taken using the factory’s device are considered to be the same as if the measurements were made directly by a device known to be the National Primary Standard (within a given margin of error).
The traceability system enables the implementation of the provision of the Amended Measurement Law for METI to give accreditation for and register devices calibrated using the system and meeting the calibration criteria of the National Primary Standard for a given measurement. The calibration companies have been empowered to issue secondary accreditation certifications to users of devices at the sites—such as factories—where the devices are used. As a result, measuring devices used on site in places like factories can achieve traceability to the National Primary Standard. People involved with the traceability system in Japan look forward to the system being expanded to create international traceability standards.
The system means it is possible to achieve traceability, certification and accreditation of measuring devices. When evaluating a product based on quantitative measurements, it is up to the person doing the evaluation to learn the traceability of the device used to provide the quantitative values. In the end, knowing what device was used to obtain measurements is important.
In today’s world of technological progress, measurements can now often be obtained simply by pressing a button. Results may be displayed regardless of whether the person pushing the button has the appropriate knowledge to be taking the measurement in the first place. In the field of acoustics, noise and vibration are two characteristics that we measure quantitatively. The measurements for each of these characteristics are complex and performing the measurements requires assessing the conditions near the location that is the target of the measurements (to determine if there are sound reflecting surfaces in the surrounding space or not). Weather and topographical conditions also affect the measurements among other factors. Clearly these kinds of physical phenomena are difficult to measure correctly. For this reason, as the complexity of the measuring activities increases so does the need for advance planning, expertise and experience to obtain truly accurate and meaningful measurements.
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