News 16-05 (No.341)
Issued : May 25, 2016
Completion of New Concert Hall in Central Conservatory of Music in Beijing
By Dr. Keiji Oguchi
Existing Concert Hall (formerly Prince Chun Mansion)
The construction of a new building for the Central Conservatory of Music completed at the end of 2015 in Beijing. The Conservatory campus is located in the southwest part of central Beijing where Tiananmen Square is. The Conservatory’s building uses land known as the birthplace of Emperor Guangxu, who ruled during the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). The façade of Prince Chun Mansion is used for the entrance of the existing concert hall in the campus. The new conservatory building is constructed at the east side of the property and includes a hall, instruction spaces and a dormitory, plus ancillary rooms.
<< Project Overview >>
Rendering of New Concert Hall and Dormitory Building
(Image Courtesy of WDCE)
As I described in my article about this project in our January, 2014 newsletter, Nagata Acoustics’ participation in the Central Conservatory project began in June, 2012 when I accompanied Tokyo University of the Arts professor Dr. Toru Kamekawa and his colleague Dr. Masataka Nakahara on their visit to Beijing. At the time, framing had already begun for the dormitory and the new hall, but the hall’s room acoustics design and sound isolation design had not started and the acoustical consultant for this work had yet to be selected.
Nagata Acoustics was given the opportunity to participate in the competition to decide the acoustical consultant. Our joint venture submission with China Architecture Design Group was selected by the judges, and together with our JV partner we became the project’s acoustical consultant.
The project architect was Walton Design Consulting Engineering Co., Ltd. China State Construction Engineering Corporation Ltd provided the general contracting services.
<< Room Acoustical Design of the Conservatory Hall >>
The Conservatory’s new concert hall seats 692 persons on its main floor and one balcony. The intention of the hall’s room acoustics design was to create a performing space for a variety of genres including solo recitals, chamber music and orchestra configuration performances, as well as opera. The hall’s inclusion of a proscenium stage supports the hall’s intended uses of being both a venue for instructional purposes and for performances before audiences.
Initially, the planned seat count was between 800 and 1,200. However, two factors led to having less than this number of seats in the hall. One factor was the decision that the space at the very front of the stage be used for an orchestra pit. The other factor was the desire to minimize and refrain from adding seats below certain portions of the balcony’s overhang where the overhang would make for less desirable acoustics. As a result, the total number of seats became 692.
The proscenium stage opening has a height of 11 m. (36 ft.). For orchestral concerts, risers bring the floor of the orchestra pit up to the same height as the floor of the stage. The orchestra will be seated at the orchestra pit location where we achieved a ceiling height of 13 m. (43 ft.).
As can be seen in the cross-sectional view, inside the fly tower the hall is equipped with a vast array of stage equipment both for on-stage use and for use as suspension mechanisms. I have had the pleasure of visiting Beijing National Grand Theatre and some other halls in China and, in my experience, this kind of robust stage equipment is a standard feature of performance halls in China.
The orchestra shell is installed at the sides of the fly tower. The system is a tower-style system manufactured by the U.S. company Wenger Corporation, whose products are widely installed in China’s performance spaces. To achieve the maximum dimension for the ceiling height throughout the stage area inside the deployed orchestra shell, we specified that the ceiling reflection panels of the shell be able to be set horizontally. In addition, in order to provide sound reflections with a slight time delay to the musicians performing on stage, we also installed the acoustical eaves at 5 m. (16 ft.)-high on the tower walls.
<< Preview Performances during Inspections >>
Views of the New Concert Hall
from the Balcony and the Stage
With the completion of the hall’s construction, the performance venue is now in a period of inspection by public authorities and, therefore, the official inauguration of the hall will be set at a future date. I look forward to conservatory students and audiences experiencing the hall through use as musicians and attendance at performances.
While the hall has not yet officially opened, at the end of 2015, as part of the hall’s inspection process, China’s internationally acclaimed, award-winning Amber Quartet (all former students of the Conservatory) performed on the hall stage with the stage set to a concert configuration and an orchestra of traditional Chinese instruments played a trial performance in the orchestra pit. The musicians of both ensembles said that the hall had intimate sound with their music sounding “close” and that the hall has fine sound reverberations. These musicians gave confirmation that we achieved the acoustic objectives of our design work for this project.
<< New Recording Studio in Progress >>
On the level below the hall entrance a recording studio is currently being constructed. Prof. Kamekawa serves as advisor to the recording studio project, which was designed by SONA Corporation and Studio Equipment Corporation of Japan.
When the recording studio construction has completed, and the hall formally opens I plan to share more news about this project with our readers.
Additional information about the Central Conservatory of Music can be found at its website: http://en.ccom.edu.cn
Iiyama Cultural Center “Natura” Opens
By Ryoichi Wada
Building Exterior of Iiyama City Cultural Center “Natura”
Plan of the Cultural Center Campus
The Nakamichi Interior Concourse
In the winter a year ago, people along the new Hokuriku Bullet Train Line celebrated the start of the lineʼs high speed rail service. One community with a station along the new route had another reason to celebrate: the opening of a new cultural center. In January 2016, Iiyama City celebrated the opening of Natura, conveniently located near Iiyama Station of the new Hokuriku Bullet Train Line.
Kengo Kuma and Associates created the facilityʼs unique architectural design and Shimizu Corporation built it. Nagata Acoustics served as the acoustical consultant for the entire project. In this article I will discuss the room acoustics design of the new facilityʼs two halls.
<< Overview of the New Facility and The Local Surroundings >>
Iiyama City is the modern day collection of a number of mountain villages long known for their bucolic mountainous landscape with Shinto shrines, and Buddhist temples. The Chikuma River weaves through the area and in each of the four seasons the areaʼs northern climate produces changing vistas that look quintessentially Japanese. A well-known Japanese song̶“Oborozukiyo”̶ has lines such as “I see the ridge of the mountain covered with deep fog” that evoke the special beauty of Iiyama City. Prof. Tatsuyuki Takano wrote the famous lyrics of this song while still teaching elementary school in Iiyama. He later joined the faculty of Tokyo Music School (reorganized to Tokyo University of Arts) and joined the Tokyo classical music world.
In the midst of these surroundings, the new Iiyama City Cultural Center "Natura" joins the landscape in a most compatible way. The fly tower and hall are wrapped in slabs of Cor-ten steel that blend well with the surrounding vistas of rolling peaks. To complement the steel, locally-sourced Nagano Prefecture larch fir siding clads much of the façade. The architectural design invites visitors to enter through a concave-shaped entrance appropriate to a locale with snowy winters.
Upon entering the building, visitors find themselves in a concourse named the "Nakamichi" (“interior way”) which includes the Space for lobby, foyer, café and so on. The main rooms such as Main hall (500 seats), Recital Hall (171 seats) and Studio 1 are placed beside the “Nakamichi”, but those main rooms are not adjoined to each other. Above the “Nakamichi” and many of these spaces the same larch fir material has been used in laminate format for an overhead ceiling design of wood frames.
<< Room Acoustical Design of the Main Hall >>
Main Hall Interior
Main Hall Cross-Section
The project programming of the Main Hall envisioned a multipurpose hall that can be used for a range of events from concerts to lectures. For any hall project, achieving the generous sound reverberations appropriate for classical music performances requires a hall design with a ceiling of sufficient height. Thankfully, the design of Naturaʼs exterior envelope enabled us to obtain a desirable ceiling height in the Main Hall.
The interior of the Main Hall continues the Nakamichi design theme of wood beams with the addition of large wood panels on both the ceiling and walls. This hall has exposed functional ceiling elements, such as the catwalk and ceiling spotlights, but the design keeps these elements inconspicuous by focusing visual attention on the design of the wood frames and panels. In planning the hallʼs room acoustics design we incorporated the placement of the frames and the panels in ways that make them positive elements from the perspective of our acoustical objectives. In this way we achieved a collaborative harmony between the room acoustics design work and the architectural design objectives.
During our collaboration on the room design of the Main hall we spent hours of negotiations and discussions regarding the exact placement of the ceilingʼs frames and wood panels to obtain the maximum benefit from the high ceilings. In particular, we focused on ensuring that the elements below the ceiling do not interfere with sound reflections propagated from the ceiling. Additionally, we designed the frames and other elements so that they would support desired sound scattering. Also, we worked with the architectural team to design a sound reflection panel system above the stage that balances the arrival of reflections from those panels and from the ceiling above the audience seating.
The result of our work with the architectural team is the wooden frame which combined with a pattern of vertically oriented short and thin wood boards connected by beams. In addition, the section of the ceiling above the front rows of audience seats has panels that are angled to provide reflections to these seats where the ceilingʼs reflections may not easily reach. Conversely, above the center portion of the audience seating we specified the installation of the bare minimum number of panels so that the sound reflections from the ceiling reach this part of the audience unimpeded. Both the ceilingʼs wood panels and wood panels along the side walls of the hall are installed as if they were pairs of French doors with the angle of each panel set randomly to reflect and scattered sound throughout the audience seating area.
<< Room Acoustical Design of the Recital Hall >>
Recital Hall Interior
Recital Hall Cross-Section
The Recital Hall is designed primarily for the performance of classical music. The hall plan shape is trapezoid that widens from the stage towards the rear of the audience seating. The Recital Hallʼs rows of fixed seating form a gentle curve that parallels the gently curving edge of the hallʼs stage. The walls of this hall are covered in a soft tone of Japanese washi paper that, together with the hallʼs shape and seating arrangement create a visually intimate setting with a feeling of unity between the stage and audience.
For the room acoustics design of this hall we aimed to deliver balanced sound throughout the hall and to create the impression at each seat of being enveloped in the music. To these ends, we proactively included effective use of the side wall and rear wall surfaces of the space to be sound-reflecting surfaces and we developed a room acoustics design in which the sound reflections pervade the entire hall.
The architectural design team proposed a wood frame interior ceiling for the Recital hall that would be similar to the one in the Main hall. In order to configure the wood frame not to disturb the propagation of reflected sound - but to scatter the sound moderately - for the Recital hallʼs space, we suggested to make wood frameʼs components of the overhead ceiling thin. Also to get reflected sound to seats even from the rear wall, we suggested it to be tilted to inside of the hall.
In addition to developing the design of the rear wall in a way that suits the compact size of the hall, we also addressed the need to soften the sound reflections from the side walls. To do this we added narrow vertical protruding strips along the walls, and installed this treatment along the walls of the stage, the side walls and the rear wall as well. Because the architectural design specified the use of washi (Japanese paper) for the finish surface of these walls, the fibers of the material have a rough texture that also benefits the roomʼs acoustics by promoting slight scattering of, in particular, higher frequency sounds.
<< The Acoustical Characteristics of the Two Halls >>
When configured for concerts with its sound reflection panel system, the reverberation time of the Main Hall measures 1.7 seconds (with the hall empty) and 1.5 seconds (with a full audience). When the Main Hall is configured with a stage curtain the respective reverberation times are 1.3 seconds and 1.2 seconds. The Recital Hallʼs reverberation time is 1.4 seconds when the hall is empty and 1.2 seconds with a full audience.
When I listened in each of the halls soon after the buildingʼs completion I had the impression that each has a good and comfortable balance between the size of its stage and the distance to the farthest seat of its audience seating area. Moreover, the acoustics of each hall has a softness, perhaps a kind of relaxed feeling that makes these spaces truly enjoyable. I believe these acoustics were achieved through the combination of wood frames and panels combined with wall surfaces that have textures and protruding elements that all contribute to adequate scattering of sound in each of the halls. In particular, in the Recital Hall, the architectural intent of visual softness for the washi-covered walls and the soft quality of the acoustics from the wallsʼ subtle vertical protrusions form an interior with truly compatible visual and acoustic characteristics.
For the Iiyama City Cultural Center "Natura" inaugural concert, the hall invited 2 popular Japanese professional singers̶Saori Yuki and Sachiko Yasuda̶to perform their “Songs of Your Life” concert program of nostalgic Japanese nursery rhymes. This is a concert that the sisters have performed to acclaim by both adults and children in many halls, including a concert in New Yorkʼs Lincoln Center.
In the months since the centerʼs opening, the Main and Recital halls have already been used for concerts and lectures. The “Nakamichi” and the Studio 1 have been creatively used for events with food stalls and the outdoor plaza has been the venue for a fiesta event. The center is quickly becoming a familiar part of the cultural lives of Iiyama City residents. The Iiyama train station may be best known as a destination for visitors coming to spend fun time in the snow. Now it can be a yearround cultural destination for the cityʼs residents and nearby communities.
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