News 17-05 (No.353)
Issued : May 25, 2017
La Seine Musicale sets sail in Boulogne-Billancourt (France)
By Marc Quiquerez
La Seine Musicale, a brand-new music center set on Ile Seguin in Boulogne-Billancourt, just west of Paris, celebrated its opening on April 22nd 2017.
<< Project background and timeline >>
The project was initiated in 2011 by the “Conseil Départemental des Hauts-de-Seine”, the local administrative division covering the western inner suburbs of Paris. As we reported in the August, 2013 newsletter, the client decided to develop the project through a Private Financing Initiative (PFI), a rather unusual procedure in France for a cultural building. The selection process involved three groups led by the major construction companies in France, teaming up with high profile architects and design specialists. It concluded with the selection of the proposal developed by Shigeru Ban Architects Europe and Jean de Gastines Architects and their design team. The team was assembled and organized by global construction firm Bouygues Bâtiment IDF. Construction broke ground in July 2014 and the building was handed over to the client and operator in January 2017.
Throughout the competition and project, Nagata Acoustics served as acoustical consultant in the design team for room acoustics of the music rooms. Paris-based Lamoureux Acoustics provided acoustical consulting services for sound isolation and noise control. Theater consulting services were provided by dUCKS Scéno, from Lyon (France).
<< An insular stage on a musical river >>
When approaching the building, one is immediately startled by its unique silhouette. Borrowing from the imposing scale of a cruise ship as well as the light and dynamic profile of a sail boat, La Seine Musicale stretches along more than 320 meters and offers its two flanks to the views of Boulogne to the North and the hills of Meudon to the South. It follows on from the urban planning concept established by Ateliers Jean Nouvel in 2010. It is also inspired by the industrial history of the island, which was the site of Renault car factory for more than half a century. Over a site of 2.5 hectares, the building develops a built surface area of 36,500 square meters.
As visitors set foot on the island, they are greeted by an ample public square overlooked by a massive LED screen. To its left, a wide staircase leads up to a landscaped garden of more than 7,000 square meters crowning the building. To its right, a monumental glazed gate leads to the inner street crossing the building on its North side and serving the different spaces and functions of the building.
Laid at the downstream end of the island as a beacon, the main visual symbol of the building is without doubt the 1,150-seat Auditorium. Nested in a woven structure of wood and glass, the transparent egg-like shape reveals to the outside the iridescent green of the mosaic covering the shell of the hall. On the inside, the audience foyer running around the shell offers panoramic views to the river and the garden. On the upstream side of the egg, a magnificent sail covered by 800 square meters of solar panels follows the sun to provide energy to the building and shadows to the foyer.
<< The design of the Auditorium >>
Auditorium - view from balcony
Auditorium - view from choir
Auditorium - plan and long cross section
From the onset of the design, the clear goal set by the team was to create an intimate and warm concert experience, emphasizing the proximity of audience and performers. Drawing inspiration from vineyard designs, the audience layout naturally developed in a surround-type hall. The main floor rises with a steep rake in distinct blocks delimited by terrace walls providing essential early reflections to the listeners. A first ring of seating connects to the rear of the main floor and wraps around the stage. Above, a narrow balcony creates a second ring of seating, and contributes to providing useful early reflections to the audience and the stage.
Upon entering the hall, one is welcomed by the warmth of honey-colored wood lining the walls in alternating waving stripes, creating different visual rhythms along the walls and providing the sound scattering irregularities contributing to the warmth of sound. As the eyes sweep the hall, they meet the curves of the seats with their red velvet cylindrical cushions inspired by the paper tubes that have become one of the signatures of Shigeru Ban’s designs. But one of the most breathtaking sights remains the 1,000 suspended wooden hexagons. They encircle cuts of paper tubes of various sizes, and project their shadows upon the immaculately white curves of the ceiling above. The unusual waves of this massive acoustical ceiling were carefully studied, as well as other detailed geometrical features of the hall, with the help of our proprietary 3D simulation software as well as acoustical testing of a 1:20 scale physical model. The combination of these tools allowed us to analyze the distribution of early sound reflections in the hall and to prevent the occurrence of detrimental echoes on the stage and in the audience.
Designed to accommodate a full-size orchestra, the stage is equipped with 29 motorized risers for orchestra and choir. The hall also features an orchestra pit and 3 movable catwalks which can be lowered from the ceiling to create additional lighting positions. A collection of retractable acoustical curtains in the walls and movable catwalks offer acoustical variability for programs with amplified sound.
<< Other facilities >>
Under the Auditorium, and in direct connection with the stage, the resident ensemble Insula Orchestra will find rehearsal rooms for individual, sectional and full orchestra practice, as well as administrative offices.
In close proximity, a collection of music rooms of various sizes (including one suitable for full orchestra and one dance studio) will be available as rental for rehearsals and recordings.
The larger hall in the facility, “La Grande Seine”, immediately exposes the underside of its seating tiers to the inner street and main foyer. Concealed under the roof garden and dedicated to large scale events and concerts with sound amplification, it can accommodate seated audience of 4,000 people, and up to 6,000 people with standing audience. Its fan-shape design with steep rakes ensures a sense of proximity to the stage, while the curved layout emphasizes the sense of communion and sharing.
Directly facing the entrance plaza, the Maîtrise des Hauts-de-Seine, official children choir of Paris National Opera, will benefit from more than 10 practice and teaching rooms, including a large rehearsal room which can accommodate up to 500 singers and staged rehearsals.
Shops and cafes opened to a promenade along the river bank.
<< Inaugural week and evening, symbols of the project’s ambitions and promises >>
Following the opening ceremony, the inaugural concert in the Auditorium was performed by La Seine Musicale resident ensemble, Insula Orchestra, conducted by music director and founder Maestro Laurence Equilbey, accompanied by four solo singers, Accentus choir and pianist B. Chamayou. The 90-minute concert featured pieces by W.A. Mozart, C. M. von Weber and L. van Beethoven. It offered a wonderful display of the acoustical qualities that the client and design team had set as our goal, with a rich, warm and clear sound, beautifully balancing instrumental ensemble and voices.
We are very proud to have taken part in this exciting and ambitious project which, after the new Auditorium of Radio France in late 2014 and Philharmonie de Paris in early 2015, offers yet another unique musical destination for music lovers in Paris, its region and beyond.
The URL for La Seine Musicale： http://www.laseinemusicale.com
Musashino Academia Musicae’s New Ekoda Campus
By Fumiaki Sakamaki
Ekoda campus viewed from its South Gate
This past April, as the new Japanese school year began, Musashino Academia Musicae welcomed students to its recently completed Ekoda Campus. The new campus project preserved just one of the previously existing campus’ buildings, the 1043-seat Beethoven Hall. The other buildings on the campus have all been replaced by the recently completed project.
The newly constructed campus buildings house a 423-seat concert hall named Brahms Hall and the recital and chamber music hall that seats an audience of 100 persons. The chamber music hall is named Mozart Hall, the school’s third hall to bear this name. In addition to these facilities, the campus has three rehearsal rooms—one each for orchestra, chorus, and wind ensemble—as well as multiple classrooms and practice rooms, a library, a musical instrument museum and a range of support rooms.
The interior courtyard named Liszt Plaza
The Ekoda Campus is located in a quiet, residential neighborhood in western Tokyo. The campus buildings surround the campus’ Liszt Plaza, an interior courtyard which was built at an elevation one level below the ground level outside of the campus. The plaza will serve as a lively outdoor space where students can meet and congregate, so its below-grade elevation and the campus layout of school buildings that surround the plaza together demonstrate the consideration the architects gave to how the project would preserve the quiet nearby neighborhood environment.
Obayashi Corporation led the design and construction of this design-build project. Nagata Acoustics provided full acoustical consulting services primarily for Beethoven Hall and Brahms Hall from the basic design phase through construction and post-construction acoustical measuring and evaluations.
<< Beethoven Hall Renovation and Retrofit >>
Exterior of Beethoven Hall
View of Beethoven Hall stage from side balcony seating
Beethoven Hall interior viewed from the stage
Beethoven Hall was originally built in 1960 and, when the Ekoda Campus renovation project began, had more than 50 years of history as a beloved concert hall with excellent acoustics. For this project, our mission was to preserve the familiar, excellent atmosphere and acoustical characteristics of the hall.
The scope of the renovations and retrofit included upgrades to improve the seismic safety and fire-prevention of the building. Also, the project replaced various equipment and systems to make the hall more comfortable for audiences and performers and to improve the level of quietness in the hall. An elevator and wheelchair access routes were added to make the hall a barrier free environment.
Ceiling of the hall also required fall prevention from an earthquake, without deteriorating its excellent acoustics. From structural point of view, nets were set below the existing mortar ceiling to stop the ceiling from falling instantly. Then from visual perspective, acrylic resin was applied over the net and were integrated to the mortar ceiling, which made the nets almost invisible.
Acrylic resin is a relatively soft material and the addition of this material as the finished surface of large portions of the hall’s ceiling would have changed the acoustic properties of the hall’s ceiling.
To address the concern, during the construction phase of the project a 1:1 mock-up of a portion of the ceiling was made using the planned construction methods for construction and visual inspection, and some small samples were cut out for testing vertical incident sound absorption coefficient with different variation of acrylic resin. After all the testing, we chose acrylic resin with silica sand mixing that hardens on surface for the application.
While the basic premise of our design included making no major changes to Beethoven Hall’s reverberation characteristic, we did make some relatively minor improvements to enhance this venue’s appropriateness for the performance of classical music. Specifically, by eliminating a portion of the perforated panels that are installed at the rear of the auditorium on the ceiling above the audience seating, we succeeded in slightly lengthening the hall’s reverberation time. The renovated hall’s reverberation time (in an empty hall, at 500 Hz) measures 1.9 seconds, which is 0.1 seconds longer than before the renovations.
<< The New Brahms Hall >>
Exterior of Brahms Hall
View of Brahms Hall stage from rear audience seating
A view of the Brahms Hall interior
focusing on its unique ceiling configuration
Brahms Hall Foyer with crystal ceiling light fixtures
from the original Mozart Hall
The entirely new Brahms Hall has an audience seating area with a single slope from front to back and 423 seats. Considerations of shadow impacts to the neighborhood meant that our room design of this hall needed to be developed within some difficult constraints on the hall’s ceiling height. Working within the constraints, and in order to obtain the rich acoustics appropriate for a classical music concert hall, we designed the space to have the maximally allowed ceiling height.
At its highest point, the Brahms Hall ceiling measures 14 meters (46 feet) from the stage. The ceiling slopes gently downward from this high point towards the rear of the audience seating and the side walls, creating a unique ceiling configuration of four triangular surfaces. The indirect lighting installed at the joints of the ceiling’s surfaces and at the upper portions of the side walls give the hall an impressive appearance.
To obtain abundant early sound reflections, we tilted the hall’s side walls outward and we designed the surfaces of the walls so that the early sound reflections effectively reach the stage and the audience seating. The specially designed sound-reflecting surface of the side walls intentionally contains a variety of materials that have different acoustical properties, including wood veneer plywood, ribbed wood material, Japanese Oya stone and Mikage stone, porcelain tile and glass. The design of the side walls surface that combines all of these diverse materials gives a contemporary look to the hall’s interior.
The spatial volume of Brahms Hall measures some 6,000 cubic meters (212,000 cubic feet), which equates to 14 cubic meters (500 cubic feet) of space per seat. These measurements provide ample spatial volume for the hall’s intended use of non-amplified musical performances. Because the hall is part of a school campus, it will likely also be used for some classes and exams, so we designed the hall to not have an overly long reverberation time. To accomplish this objective we placed sound absorbing elements in various, dispersed locations around the hall on portions of the walls—including the side walls—where the surfaces do not contribute to promoting sound reflections. In this way, we achieved the desired level of control for the sound reverberation characteristic.
<< Two Halls with One Reverberation Time and Different Personalities >>
The completed Brahms Hall has a reverberation time of 1.9 seconds (in an empty hall at 500 Hz). The rich reverberation time we achieved provides the appropriate acoustical environment for classical music concerts.
Remarkably, the reverberation times of Brahms Hall and Beethoven Hall, which has a spatial volume of 8,500 cubic meters (300,000 cubic feet), are the same 1.9 seconds (in an empty hall, at 500 Hz), even though the two halls differ in audience seating capacity and spatial volume. What is fascinating about these halls is the very different acoustical impression experienced in each of the two halls. The Beethoven Hall acoustics are bright and expansive, while Brahms Hall has acoustics that sound delicate and intricately precise. Single reverberation time alone cannot explain or define the two halls and their acoustics that now coexist on the same Musashino Academia Musicae Ekoda Campus.
<< Opening Concert in Brahms Hall >>
The Brahms Hall inaugural concert was held on Monday, April 17, 2017. The program featured the woodwind ensemble of Musashino Academia Musicae teachers.
In the foyer of Brahms Hall, the school’s original Mozart Hall crystal chandeliers—from the building that completed in 1960—glistened from the new foyer’s ceiling, reinstalled as a symbol of Musashino Academia Musicae’s traditions. The chandeliers keep the school’s history alive and felt by all visitors to the foyer. In 2019, the school will celebrate its 90th anniversary. Even as the anniversary approaches, Musashino Academia Musicae begins a rebirth on its new Ekoda Campus.
The URL for Musashino Academia Musicae is http://www.musashino-music.ac.jp/
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