Title means "Quietness", "Comfortable Sound" and "Excellent Acoustics"

Nagata Acoustics News 02-9 (No.177)
Issued : September 25, 2002

Togitsu's Canary Hall Opens in Nagasaki Prefecture

by Akira Ono

Canary Hall exterior
(now the roof is covered with green)
The town of Togitsu, in Nagasaki Prefecture, is located along the coast of Omura Bay where the northern border of Nagasaki City meets the Nishisonogi Peninsula. Omura Bay is well known internationally because Nagasaki Airport extends into this bay and is the first airport in the world to be built as a floating offshore structure. The high-speed ferry service that runs between Togitsu and the airport takes just 20-30 minutes for a one-way trip, making Togitsu a popular and convenient access route for airport users. In addition, Togitsu is about a 20-minute drive from the Nagasaki Railroad Station and its proximity to good rail transportation has led the town to develop a double personality as both a bedroom community for Nagasaki City and an industrial city dotted with energy company installations and a Mitsubishi Electric plant.

<< An Architectural Design to Match a Great Location >>

Walking trails reaching
"Cultural Forest"
The town of Togitsu planned and constructed Togitsu Canary Hall in commemoration of Togitsu-cho's 50th anniversary of incorporation as a township. The hall opened in May 2002.

The site selected for the hall is on the grounds of a Togitsu-cho park named "Bunka no Mori Park" ("Cultural Forest"). The park covers one side of a wooded slope, with a children's playground built on a small hillock, walking trails through the woods and an observation deck at the park's highest point. The presence of local children playing on sliding ponds is one of the defining characteristics of this park's atmosphere. According to the project architect, Mr. Noguchi of Kume Sekkei, Canary Hall's location is blessed with the most attractive environment of any he has ever used for a public facility.

<< Greenery and Light Throughout the Facility >>

Practice room interior
When the walking trails reach Canary Hall, they continue into the facility where courtyard gardens and terraces mix with modern building materials to create a world of greenery. The building's design makes it look as if it is one of the Cultural Forest's park facilities. In addition to the 800-seat multipurpose hall, a rehearsal room and four practice rooms, the facility does have a Folk History Resources Library and a Children's Pavilion, and almost all of the rooms except the multipurpose hall have windows that provide lush green views of the outdoors.

From the building's entrance hall a large window gives visitors a glimpse inside the facility's rehearsal room as well as a view of the outdoor landscape through the outside window on the other side of the rehearsal room. Each of the four practice rooms also have large windows to the outside, another example of how the design of this building creates a feeling of openness and bright and airy indoor spaces. For musicians using the practice rooms, the feeling is almost like being outside in nature, with none of the dark and closeted atmosphere of some other facilities' practice rooms.

<< Anti-vibration and Sound Isolation Aspects of the Acoustical Design >>

Because the design of the building features an outdoor, wood-plank walkway that passes directly above the roof of the rehearsal room, one of our acoustical design goals was to mitigate the sound from footsteps on this access path to the facility. Our design uses anti-vibration rubber installed underneath the walkway to create a floating substructure. As a result, while there is some minimal transference of sound if people run back and forth across the walkway, the level of sound transference is acceptable and does not present any problems under normal use conditions.

In buildings such as Togitsu Canary Hall that make extensive use of glass walls, the attention given to sound isolation design is especially important. In this project, the multipurpose hall and the rehearsal room share a common internal wall and one of our primary goals was to maximize the sound isolation between the two rooms. We constructed the common wall between the rooms using a double layer of concrete and, additionally, we implemented an anti-vibration structural design for the rehearsal room by using pre-fabricated cement panels and a concrete floating foundation underneath the room. However, two of the rehearsal room's other walls (not in common with the multipurpose hall) are made of glass and the practice rooms also have large glass windows. In two of the four practice rooms we used gypsum board to create an anti-vibration and anti-noise structure. In order to mitigate the negative impact of the many glass windows on the walls' sound isolation performance, we specified the thickness needed for each glass window individually and we made each of the windows double-paned, with one pane constructed as part of the building exterior and another, anti-vibration, anti-noise pane hung as part of the interior construction.

The rehearsal room's sound isolation performance level measures above D-85. (The "D" rating is a Japanese standard for measuring sound isolation performance.) The sound isolation performance of the practice rooms depends on where the measurement is taken. In general, the sound isolation performance level of these rooms measures above D-75. However, due to the lower sound isolation performance characteristic of glass, the sound isolation level measures no higher than D-45 where glass separates a practice room from an interior hallway. In this project, which uses glass extensively in its architectural design, we achieved effective sound isolation in those parts of the facility where a high level of sound isolation performance is required.

<< Room Acoustical Design of Canary Hall >>

Canary Hall interior with
reflection panels installed
Canary Hall's basic configuration is a multipurpose hall with a fan-shaped footprint and a balcony. The primary purpose of the hall is the performance of live, non-amplified music, so we designed the reflection panels at the sides and the ceiling of the stage so that they have an integrated appearance with the walls and ceiling of the audience seating areas. The reflection panels may be removed as needed for specific performances. We designed Canary Hall's walls to ensure ample reflection and diffusion of even the lowest pitch sounds by creating a geometric pattern of sound-diffusing protrusions and by leaving the rough concrete surface exposed.

<< The Project Owner's "Omotekata" Committee >>

In addition to this project having the benefit of an excellent location, the project architect, Mr. Noguchi, also believes that the project was blessed with an excellent project owner. Mr. Mori, Chairman of the Togitsu-cho Municipal Education Committee's Social Education Sub-committee, championed the entire project and was directly involved from the planning phases through the implementation of day-to-day operations. During the initial programming phase of the project, Mr. Mori made prompt decisions about both major issues, such as the facility's basic concept, and minor details, relying on his authority and his own sense of the best choices.

At Mr. Mori's request, I once attended his "Omotekata" Committee and made a presentation about Nagata Acoustics' design plan for the project. In Japanese, the word "omotekata" usually refers to the hall or theater employees who come into direct contact with patrons (as opposed to employees who work backstage and are "invisible" to audiences). However Mr. Mori coined his own extended definition of "omotekata" to encompass all the people who use the hall and appear before audiences, including musicians and theater artists. He gathered representatives of the Togitsu-cho and nearby Nagasaki City performing arts communities and formed the Omotekata Committee. This kind of forum has become a typical part of the planning process for recent public hall projects.

The benefit of holding a users' forum or workshop during the planning process is that it provides an opportunity to hear the opinions and desires of the group of stakeholders who will be the future performing artists on the hall's stage and users of the hall in a similar capacity, such as the play directors and choreographers. The problem is that the workshops usually do not go beyond providing a venue for each constituent to air his or her desires, ideas and opinions. The project sponsors typically do not provide feedback and when, at a later date, individuals discover that their ideas were not adopted and incorporated into the project, they tend to become disaffected and ill disposed toward the new facility. However, at the Omotekata Committee meeting I attended, Mr. Mori responded immediately to each proposed idea, clearly stating either, "Yes, that is included in our planning" or "No, that is not within the scope of the project." Listening to his replies to the meeting's participants was truly refreshing.

In the future, as Togitsu Canary Hall becomes accustomed to being in operational mode, and understanding that the hall will be operating under the budget restrictions of a difficult economic environment, I hope that the facility will continue its excellent relationship with its constituents, and that many artists and groups of performers will create programs attracting large local audiences to the facility. I look forward to watching how this hall develops its operational opportunities.

Togitsu Canary Hall can be reached by telephone at +81-95-882-0003.

Aubade Hall and its Illustrious Artistic Director after Six Years

by Makoto Ino

Mr.Nobuo Eiso, Artistic Director
Six years have passed since Toyama City's Aubade Hall opened in September 1996. It has also been a while since I visited the facility, so I decided that the hall's sixth anniversary would be an excellent time to visit the hall again and interview its Artistic Director, Mr. Nobuo Eiso for this article. Aubade Hall is owned and operated by the Citizen Arts Administration Center of Toyama, a municipal foundation.

My association with Mr. Eiso dates back to when he was a member of the Preparatory Committee for Japan's New National Theatre project and I was one of Nagata Acoustics' consultants assigned to that major undertaking. When the Preparatory Committee met, its esteemed representatives from various performing arts genres and related disciplines engaged in heated debates about the future new theater while we, the acousticians who would design the theater, waited in the wings absorbing the tensions that emanated from the committee members' passionate exchanges of divergent opinions. In the midst of these contentious discussions, Mr. Eiso demonstrated a deep understanding of acoustics and expressed his views with a clarity that gave us a ray of hope and the strength to work through a number of difficult issues.

Mr. Eiso's skills and capability in the National Theatre Committee setting did not surprise us given his professional background. For many years, he played a key role in educating and nurturing the careers of students at the premiere acting school associated with Japan's Haiyu-za repertory theater group. He also served as a performing arts professor at Toho Gakuen University, Japan's Women's College of Physical Education, and Tokyo National University of Fine Arts and Music. Additionally, Mr. Eiso is an accomplished playwright and poet, under the pen name Ukichi Sen, and he has successfully directed several plays. Since becoming Aubade Hall's Artistic Director, he has continued to produce new creative works, including the especially noteworthy performance piece "Soukai" ("Pale Blue Sea") in 1999, which combines music and dance genres, one musical performance in 2000, and a sort of omnibus piece in 2001 and these were staged at Aubade Hall. He is anything but a bureaucrat-style Artistic Director.

<< Aubade Hall's Proposal, Design and Construction Phases >>

The design for Aubade Hall was selected in 1993 based on a call for proposals by Toyama City. Kume Sekkei (Architectural design company) submitted the winning proposal, entitled "For Theater City Toyama - A Core Facility Theater." On this project, Nagata Acoustics participated as acoustical consultant to Kume Sekkei. Because the start of this project followed quickly after the construction groundbreaking for the New National Theater, and because both facilities featured similar scale theaters with seating on three-and-a-half sides of their stages, the design efforts of the two projects gained intensity as they fed off each other's energy.

By coincidence, the lead architect that Kume Sekkei assigned to the Aubade Hall project was Nobuo Eiso's son, Takuo Eiso (now with Taniguchi and Associates). The project progressed through conceptual design and production of the construction documents, and Aubade Hall's construction phase started in 1995.

<< The Aubade Hall Story Is Told in a Book >>

A detailed recounting of the design and construction of Aubade Hall is preserved in an excellent, 72-page, Japanese-language volume entitled "Yoake-mae" (literally, "Before the Dawn"). This slim book tells the behind-the-scenes-style stories of the construction and facilities of Aubade hall, as well as anecdotes about the personalities who sponsored and built the hall. The volume begins with the first Toyama-city Kokaido (built in 1954, was typical Japanese multipurpose hall). The book is a treasury of valuable information. When I started reading this volume to refresh my memory on the details of Aubade Hall, I found myself transported back to the origins of the hall's development and construction.

<< The Unusually Comprehensive Role of the Project Architect >>

Kume Sekkei assumed unusually comprehensive responsibilities during the planning, construction and start-up of operations of Aubade Hall. In addition to its role as the design and construction project management firm on the project, the firm assumed responsibility for coordinating the hall's initial program planning and day-to-day operations, as well as all public relations planning, the planning and commissioning of art works for installation in the hall and development of the hall's theater design and stage equipment requirements.

As a result of Kume Sekkei's efforts, visitors to Aubade Hall enjoy a rich assortment of sculpture and glass art, all of which share the common themes of theaters and stages. There are some 80 large and small pieces displayed throughout the building, adding to the artistic atmosphere of the hall.

<< Hall Administration and Organization >>

The administration and operations of Aubade Hall are the responsibility of the Citizen's Art Administration of Toyama, of which Mr. Eiso is a member. The foundation adopted the Artistic Director System and at its organization are a 22-member Board of Directors and an 18-member Board of Advisors.

On-site management of Aubade Hall includes a hall director, seven administration and operations employees and 10 employees engaged in stage-related work. Several of these employees are middle-management civil service personnel on assignment from Toyama City. Mr. Eiso wants to develop the skill of these employees so that they become professionals and their positions become professional careers.

<< Roles and Responsibilities of the Artistic Director >>

When Toyama City recruited Mr. Eiso as Aubade Hall's artistic director, the city had little understanding of what an artistic director's job description should be. Mr. Eiso explained to the foundation that the artistic director is responsible for proposing and implementing performing arts programs by director's own philosophy on performing arts. Furthermore Mr. Eiso continued that an artistic endeavor is about creative originality and charting a unique course. Then he asked the foundation if they were okay with his approach to the position and they gave him the go-ahead. The first time I heard about this exchange from Mr. Eiso, and as I write it down here, the magnanimity of Toyama City's foundation tugs at my heart. This is exactly the kind of sincere patronage of the arts that should be the core value of a theater's operating and administrative organization.

The hall's programming includes the diverse genres of drama, music and dance, and Mr. Eiso, whose many years of professional expertise spans the three genres, bears full accountability for every aspect of all programs, from their conception and planning through rehearsals and the live performances. For support and implementation, he relies on the extensive technical stage experience of three Toyama City senior managers, Mr. Honma, Mr. Maikuma, Mr. Watabe and Mr. Sone, and the personnel who report to them. In my view, the hall's organization of roles and responsibilities and the individuals appointed to fill specific positions are exactly right for Aubade Hall.

<< Aubade Hall's Programming Strategy >>

Mr. Eiso says that he balances each season's program using the average guideline of operas, concerts, ballets, plays and musicals. In addition, he maintains a policy of excluding programs that are inconsistent with his own artistic philosophy and of only including programs that meet or exceed certain artistic and technical standards. To enforce this policy, he travels wherever necessary, even outside Japan, to hear and see performers and their performances with his own ears and eyes before inviting them to perform at Aubade Hall. His observation tours have taken him to Mongolia, Cambodia, Russia, Europe, the United States (New York), and other countries. Mr. Eiso also takes advantage of Aubade Hall's stage configuration to bring operas performed at the similarly configured New National Theatre to Toyama City.

Mr. Eiso selects the specific works of a program using the principles that "the work performed should suit the performance space" and "the performance space should suit the work performed." An example of how these two principles translate into practice are this year's Aubade Hall performances for which Mr. Eiso created entire small-theater settings on the Aubade Hall stage. Both audience and stage were contained in the space of the stage for performances of New York's Off Off Broadway La MaMa production of "Women of Troy" and of the Japanese play "Ki ni Hana Saku" ("Flowers Bloom in Trees"), by playwright Minoru Betsuyaku. Mr. Eiso plans to continue to use this technique for creating a small-scale theater for future appropriate productions. Having not yet experienced these productions myself, I can only imagine what marvelous intimacy this approach offers, with the hall's audience seating as the "theater" backdrop and the live audience almost close enough to the actors as to be able to reach out and touch them!

<< Creativity and the Economics of Municipal Support >>

According to Mr. Eiso, any city's accountability to its residents is measured primarily in fiscal terms, while creative independence is the lifeblood of a performing arts organization. The place where these two facts intersect is the hall's budget. For hall-sponsored programs, Toyama City pays 65%-80% of the cost and ticket sales are expected to cover the remainder. This funding structure is no different than that found across Europe and elsewhere.

Mr. Eiso believes that audiences should think of theater ticket costs as an investment for the stage and a participation in a creative works. He also wishes that the people would include performing arts tickets among the items they consider daily purchases, so that "theater costs" become a normal part of their personal budgets.

<< The Goals of an Artistic Director >>

Mr. Eiso summarized his philosophy about his goals as artistic director as follows:

* To produce many charming, appealing and fertile works.
* The stage should be at the center of the lives of everyone who works at a theater.

These are certainly words with which I heartily agree.

<< The Friends of Aubade Hall Association Organize an Overseas Tour >>

The volunteer Friends of Aubade Hall Association, known as "Asnet," aid the hall by distributing leaflets and posters about upcoming performances and by handling ticket sales operations. This year, they have expanded their activities to organizing an overseas tour. In November, Asnet will lead a group of participants to Europe for a six-night, eight-day music tour featuring Seiji Ozawa and the Vienna State Opera's performance of Janacek's opera "Janufa", and Shakespeare's plays at Stratford, England. These are some examples of how Mr. Eiso's passion for pursuing authenticity--for seeing and hearing "the real performance" with one's own eyes and ears--will become reality for the people of Toyama City and the patrons of Aubade Hall.

The Asnet office can be reached at +81-76-445-5610. Aubade Hall has a Japanese language web site at http://www.aubade.or.jp

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Nagata Acoustics News 02-9(No.177)
Issued : September 25, 2002

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