News 16-06 (No.342)
Issued : June 25, 2016
Aioi City Cultural Center (Fuso Dentsu Nagisa Hall) Opens
By Akira Ono
Aioi City Cultural Center Building Exterior
Aioi City Cultural Center (Fuso Dentsu Nagisa Hall) completed construction this spring in Aioi City Hyogo Prefecture. The city celebrated the opening with a dedication ceremony on April 2, 2016.
Sanko Architectural Engineering Co. Ltd. of Nishinomiya City, Hyogo Prefecture designed the facility and Shimizu Corporation served as the project’s general contractor. Nagata Acoustics participated in all phases of the work, beginning with the basic design phase and continuing through the completion of construction and post-completion acoustical measuring.
<< About Aioi City >>
Generations ago, Aioi City developed as a shipbuilding town—an appropriate industry for people living along the small, sheltered Aioi Bay that lies slightly west of the much larger Osaka Bay. The site of Aioi City Cultural Center faces directly onto Aioi Bay, where factories of the city’s current main manufacturer—Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries (IHI)—line the bay’s opposite shore. In the current economy, shipbuilding has been replaced by the manufacture of heavy machinery products.
Dragon Boat Display
A local annual highlight of Aioi City is its Dragon Boat Festival and rowing competition. The competitions are held on Aioi Bay. Dragon Boat rowing is said to have come to Japan from China centuries ago, and found its first popularity in Nagasaki. According to tradition, when men from Nagasaki came to work in the Harima shipyards they brought with them the rowing competition and the know-how to build the Chinese-looking boats.
Aioi Bay is the estuary of a river that empties into the Seto Inland Sea. The bay reaches deeply inland and has gentle waves that give it ideal conditions for the boat race. For the Large Hall stage of the new cultural center, IHI donated a uniquely designed drop curtain that depicts a Dragon Boat rowing competition.
<< Layout of the Cultural Center’s Halls, Rooms and Amenities >>
Aioi City Cultural Center has a main wing that houses the Large Hall, Medium-Size Hall, a conference room, Japanese tatami room and ancillary spaces, and a separate wing that has the Small Hall, music practice rooms, additional meeting rooms and a café. An observation deck connects the two wings.
The architectural design of the cultural center’s exterior resembles the boats and piers of Aioi Bay so that the building blends well into the natural landscape. The observation deck will surely provide a premiere vantage point for viewing the Dragon Boat race during the city’s annual Dragon Boat Festival.
Because the facility comprises two entirely separate buildings, from the acoustical perspective the design effectively eliminated the need for concern about sound leaking between rooms of the two structures. The small hall and its music practice rooms can therefore be used for any kind of music practice regardless of events taking place in the main wing of the facility. Even practice on musical instruments that produce very large sound volumes, such as Japanese taiko drums and rock bands can use the small hall and practice rooms without acoustically impacting the main wing.
<< Japan’s Seismic Requirements for “Special” Suspended Ceilings >>
Pertinent to any discussion of recent hall designs is the increased attention to seismic considerations for hall ceilings. A memorandum of Japan’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport addresses the structure and shape of ceilings built as part of constructing a large hall. The memorandum defines a “special” suspended ceiling as being at least 6 m. (19.6 ft) above the floor with a horizontal surface area greater than 200 sq. m. (2,153 sq. ft) and weighing more than 2 kg per sq. m. (0.4 lbs. per sq. ft). For ceilings of this category, if a new ceiling were to be constructed of the kind of light-gauge steel used for ceilings prior to the issuance of the memorandum, most manufacturers suggest that—to meet the guidelines—the ceiling would now need to be of nearly horizontal configuration or built using a very lightweight material. If these constraints were to be applied to a project to comply with the MILT memorandum, it would be very difficult for architects and acoustical consultants to create visually or acoustically appealing room designs for new halls.
Instead of designing a hall with a ceiling that would fall into MILT’s “special” suspended ceiling category, it has now become typical to design hall ceilings with structures that have secondary members. With this design, a light-gauge steel frame of secondary members is used in combination with sheetrock boards that are fastened to the secondary member frame. Because of the use of the secondary member system, the ceiling’s overall structural design is considered to be different than the kind of ceiling that would be subject to MILT’s guidelines for the “special” category of suspended ceilings.
<< Ceiling of the Aioi Cultural Center Large Hall and Configuration of the Medium-Size and Small Halls >>
For the ceiling of the Aioi Cultural Center Large Hall we used a design that employs a structure of secondary members. To maximize the seismic strength of the ceiling, we gave the outer portions of the ceiling near the side walls and rear wall of the venue a horizontal orientation, forming a kind of inverted “U” shape. Together with the architect, we focused on the center portion of the Large Hall’s ceiling for a design that achieves both favorable acoustics and a visually appealing interior.
The Medium-Size Hall and Small Hall each have flat-floors and movable seating. We designed the acoustics for these 2 spaces to meet the client’s programming requirements of use for piano recitals and other music performances, as well as for lectures, symposia, parties and exhibits. The acoustics enable these multipurpose spaces to accommodate all of these intended uses.
<< The Local Architect’s Passion for the Project and for Oysters! >>
The principal architect of Sanko Architectural Engineering Co. Ltd, Mr. Shinsuke Furusawa, is an Aioi City native and his passion for building a fabulous hall in his hometown infused energy to the entire project. Mr. Furusawa’s passion for this project first became evident in the proposal he submitted to the design competition that the client held to select the project architect and Mr. Furusawa’s proactive dedication continued throughout his construction management of all phases of the project. The results of Mr. Furusawa’s commitment can be seen in the high level of perfection attained in every detail of the building and its finishes.
When the construction progress reached one of its most important milestones, Mr. Furusawa arrived at the job site with buckets of fresh, raw oysters he had just purchased at Aioi City’s fish market. We all enjoyed a feast of both raw oysters and lightly grilled oysters. Thoughtfully, Mr. Furusawa had come prepared with a hot plate and lemons so that we could grill the fresh oysters, sprinkle them with lemon juice and enjoy the delicious treat!
The waters of Aioi Bay provide an especially nurturing environment for oysters. Many rivers such as the Ibo and Chigusawa rivers flow into the Seto Inland Sea, enriching it with minerals. Oysters typically require 2 to 3 years to reach the right size for consumption, but the oysters of Aioi Bay reach the perfect size for eating after just 1 year. In addition, they have a rich taste with a mix of sweetness and the unique oyster flavor that make them a famous and prized delicacy.
<< Future Operational Objectives >>
In the few months since the opening of Aioi City Cultural Center there have been only a few classical music concerts. Nevertheless, just as Mr. Furusawa’s passion contributed to the excellent design and construction of this facility, so the affection of local residents can be expected to develop the programming that will bring vitality and long-term operational sustenance to this new cultural center and its halls. I look forward to hearing more about the hall and its activities.
The cultural center’s website is available in an English-language version as well as Japanese. The website provides details about each hall’s equipment, rental fees, directions to the center’s location and other useful information.
Annual SIGMUS Symposium 2016
By Kosuke Suzuki
The Information Processing Society of Japan (IPSJ) has a subgroup named the Special Interest Group on Music and Computers (SIGMUS). Four years ago SIGMUS began holding annual symposium. This year, the symposium was held on May 21 and 22 at Tokai University’s Takanawa Campus.
<< Goal of the Annual SIGMUS Symposium >>
The basic approach of this symposium is to target all research broadly related to “sound” in single track. The idea is to bring together at this symposium people from different fields related to acoustics so that they assemble in the same place and the same time for a variety of multidisciplinary sessions. A goal is to promote interaction among people engaged in diverse sound-related disciplines.
While some of the topics featured at meetings of the Acoustical Society of Japan and the Architectural Institute of Japan parallel the kind of topics my colleagues and I usually discuss in this newsletter, typical SIGMUS topics generally focus on a different range of acoustics and sound-related topics such as the biological mechanisms of vocalization and hearing, audio signal processing, algorithms for automated musical performances, how to improve the funding of instrumental performances and so on.
<< Innovative Multi-Disciplinary Sessions >>
The SIGMUS symposium’s first annual event was held in 2013, making it a relatively new gathering for academics and professionals. Each year, the organizers try out a new approach as part of their program and, in this fourth year of the event, they offered 2 new ways of holding sessions: one that combined researchers from different fields of study in a kind of verbal “duel” and some sessions that were prefaced with pre-symposium tutorials.
The debate or “verbal duel” was held in coordination with another subgroup meeting from the IPSJ, the Meeting on Image Recognition and Understanding “MIRU” (which also means “to see” in Japanese). In the debate, image researchers and sound researchers joined the same session on the topic of signal processing—a technology of importance to both groups of researchers.
The other innovation tried at this year’s SIGMUS event was a series of 15-minute tutorials held immediately before invitational symposium sessions. During the tutorial, the tutorial participants were introduced to concepts and information that deepened their understanding of the upcoming topic so that they could better benefit from attending the session. Because the academic discipline of acoustics has many divergent branches, attendees of the tutorials were very grateful for the learning bridge the tutorials provided.
Large Lecture Hall Used for the Conference
Presentations on Day 2 of the event piqued my interest and their pre-symposium tutorials made me decide to attend this year’s event—my first time in the 4 years of the event’s existence. Some examples are, an introduction to how research is done on neural activity in the auditory cortex of the brain, presentation on research into whether the tone colors we hear from a violin depend on the directivity, and an introduction to an immersive auditory display system that its inventors call “Sound Cask”.
In the Day 2 there were also time for poster sessions which I found several interesting posters. One was an exhibit about an experimental system that predicts the intelligibility of outdoor amplification systems used for disaster prevention. Another fascinating research was about how tempo is affected in a successive drum tapping by two people instead of one. The researchers found that ensembles are more likely to speed up than to slow down even if both of the participants were able to keep their correct tempo when they were alone.
<< Post-Symposium Thoughts >>
One aspect of my work as an acoustical consultant is the exploration of what constitutes “good sound” or “fine acoustics”. In our era, I feel that we have an opportunity to better understand what determines if a human being perceives sound as “good” by understanding not only the function of our ears but also a little more about our brains.
In addition, I have boundless enthusiasm for considering the approaches that will develop for the auditory accompaniment of next generation visual devices that people will wear over their heads or like eyeglasses. The many diverse and fascinating topics of the SIGMUS symposia stimulate in me to continue and increase my knowledge in research areas beyond my particular architectural acoustics specialty. A next opportunity to experience new technologies and ideas will be at Content Tokyo 2016, an expo happening in Tokyo next week from June 29 to July 1 where you could also find a booth for the "Sound Cask".
Thoughts from My Experience as the Escort of a Disabled Runner
By Nobuhiko Hattori
The start of this summer’s Rio Olympics and Paralympic Games is just around the corner. There will be gymnastics, judo, a marathon and many other competitions. Each of us has his or her favorite. Among the events, do you know about the marathon for wheelchair-bound and visually impaired runners? In this race, the competing athletes will run either unassisted or with the assistance of an escort who runs alongside the athlete.
I enjoy running marathons as a hobby and recently volunteered at a local event as the “escort runner” for an athlete with impaired vision. This experience gave me new understanding—beyond the use of sounds and voice—about the methods and means we use to transmit and communicate information and the role the transmission of communication plays in our lives.
The topic of this article differs from our usual content on acoustics. I wish to share the thoughts and feelings from my “escort runner” experience.
People with low vision and those who have restricted fields of vision participate regularly in marathon running, soccer and dance activities. For vision-impaired athletes who want to participate in jogging, the location where they can workout is often some distance from where the athlete lives and the jogging course is typically also used by sighted athletes. These factors create risks and barriers to participation that a guide or escort helps to overcome. I participated in a marathon that was not limited to the vision-impaired. It welcomed people with a range of disabilities. The workout and race drew more than 100 participants, including both the athletes and their escort runners.
My first interaction began during the warm-up exercises. One person took the lead and called out the movements of the warm-up routine. At first, a command such as “bend and stretch the knees” seemed simple enough to express with a brief phrase. However, as the movements became more complex, the leader explained each and every motion: “First raise your right arm, now move the arm …” It is easy to copy a movement we see someone do, but as soon as that movement needs to be conveyed solely through words, the task of communicating quickly becomes difficult.
In the outdoor space where everyone was gathered the amplification tool used to announce the warm-up exercises and needed shared information, including announcing the name of each participant (in a way that would be meaningful to the vision-impaired runners) necessarily defaulted to a simple transistor megaphone. In the outdoor park setting where the speaker was trying to reach an audience of 100 people, both the sound volume and sound quality were often insufficient.
Once I was paired with a runner, we received a 50 cm.-long guide rope and were asked to run as a pair holding the rope. The runner and escort runner are expected to run with their arms moving in a same rhythm and with their legs at a same pace. The escort runner assesses the road ahead and approaching situations such as curves in the road and pedestrian cross-traffic. As needed, the escort runner communicates the situation in his or her own words, with phrases such as “we’re coming to a curve to the left” or “pedestrians are crossing up ahead, let’s slow the pace”.
Because the course where we ran is a park, obstacles such as children and dogs might suddenly block our path. In this kind of situation there would not be enough time to give a verbal warning and the escort runner would need to use his or her body to prevent a collision. Instead of words, an appropriate tug on the rope could convey the need to stop or move in a specific direction.
Some sight-impaired runners give feedback to the escort runner that a curve is gentle or sufficiently obvious without the verbal cue. Sighted people miss many cues that vision-impaired people sense. For example, some vision-impaired people who have guide dogs can tell from the feel of a dog’s harness that it needs to relieve itself.
It’s said that sound is a kind of scenery and as I volunteered at the event I wanted the words I said to convey more than simple mechanistic information. I tried to share in words the conditions that I saw with my eyes in front and around us. But from force of habit and relying on others being able to see what I see, I found myself unable to come up with more expressive language than “that thing” or “it”. I became a bit frustrated by my own inability to fully share through words what only I could see.
As my paired runner and I circled the same course multiple times we repeatedly encountered other paired runners. If we ran parallel to another pair of runners, I would tell my paired runner the names of the other pair and my paired athlete would say “Is that so-and-so? My name is…. I am running with Hattori-san as my escort.” These brief conversations and the simple fact of running with my paired athlete for more than an hour somehow caused me to forget that he is vision-impaired.
At one point, soon after we had run past some public restrooms, my paired athlete said “the next time we pass restrooms I’d like to make a stop”. I realized that—yes—we had indeed passed some restrooms, but until I heard this request, that building’s existence had eluded my consciousness. I was oblivious to the small audio cue installed in this kind of facility in Japan, but the attuned ear of my paired runner uses this kind of cue just as many of us use audio signals activated by timers and other sensors to facilitate all sorts of daily activities.
For people with impaired vision, public spaces such as train stations and roads are the venues of daily life and our societies provide communications and warnings through tactile paving, public announcement systems, audio cues and other means. While these elements show our interest in giving people with impaired vision the means to navigate spaces without escorts, we should think about the sound environments these venues require. We should mitigate conditions that have too much sound reverberation and ensure that the voice amplification equipment has the appropriate sound volume and clarity attributes.
When I heard a resigned voice tell me that “train stations are noisy and it’s not possible to understand what is being said over the PA system” I felt how unfortunate it is that some of the implemented sound assistance methods provide little benefit. Compared with the time we spend on the acoustics of concert halls, as a society we spend almost no time improving the sound environments of public spaces. Through my recent volunteer activities I gained new understanding into how the acoustics of everyday spaces affect people’s lives.
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