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

Nagata Acoustics News 99-7iNo.139j
Issued : July 25, 1999

Edogawa Ward's Community Center Opens

by Toshiko Fukuchi

The Toei Subway Line ties bustling Shinjuku with the suburbs of Chiba Prefecture, stretching as far as Motoyawata Station. Less than 30 minutes from the center of Tokyo, the Toei Line crosses the Arakawa River. In and around the area where this commuter train crosses the river, it travels above ground. The first station where it stops after crossing the river is Funabori Station. Here, in March 1999, new multi-purpose community center, funded by Edogawa Ward, opened its doors to the public. The project, which began construction in 1995, was managed by Edogawa Ward's Facilities Development Preparation Unit and Nihon Sekkei. Toda Nakazato Joint Venture was responsible for construction, and the architectural design was the responsibility of Oka Sekkei, which was awarded its contract through competitive bidding.

<< A Structure to Match the Ward's Waterway-rich Environment >>
Edogawa Ward lies to the east of downtown Tokyo. (The word "ward" is a municipal unit within the greater Tokyo Metropolitan Area, but Edogawa Ward has a much more suburban atmosphere than Tokyo's more central wards.) Directly south of the ward is Tokyo Bay, on the ward's eastern border is the Edogawa River, and its west is the Arakawa River. Surrounded on three sides by two rivers and a bay, the people of Edogawa Ward naturally enjoy a deep sense of their connection with their plentiful water resources. Edogawa Ward calls itself "The City of Water Play," and this motto served as the inspiration for the design of the ward's new community center.

The name Funabori is a combination of two Chinese characters: funa is written with the character for "ship" and bori is written with the character for "canal" or "moat." Appropriately, the new structure in Funabori is shaped like a ship, and even boasts a mast-like observation tower that rises into the air to emphasize the building's ship-like appearance. The building exterior, finished in white, bears a strong resemblance to the unfurled sails of a sailboat at sea.

<< A Mast-like Observation Tower that Serves as a True Lookout >>
The building's observation tower rises 103 meters (370 ft.) high. On clear days, the beautiful peaks of Mt. Fuji and the Chichibu Mountain range can be seen from the tower, as well as Umi Hotaru ("Firefly of the Sea"), the new recreation attraction on Tokyo Bay. But in addition to being an excellent vantage point for gazing on distant Kanto sights, the tower serves a more serious purpose as well. It contains a camera set to rapidly pick up on the outbreak of any fire or other natural calamity, as soon as it starts, and immediately send the information to a centralized emergency task force.

<< Five Functionalities Arranged in a User-friendly Layout >>
The new structure features five kinds of facilities: an exhibition space; event hall; business promotion center; large and small performance halls, and a medical examination center. To facilitate movement within each of the five kinds of facilities housed in the building, each is concentrated on a limited number of floors. In addition, each of the five facilities connects with the building's core, where a seven-story atrium rises up the center of the structure.

<< Sound Isolation among Unrelated Facilities Sharing the Same Roof >>
Whenever unrelated facilities share the same roof, sound isolation between and among them is always a major concern. In order for each of the facilities to operate efficiently and successfully, it is essential that there be no limitations on how or when each is used.

In the new Edogawa Ward Community Center, the single largest facility--the event hall--is located on the floor below the large performance hall. The small hall and rehearsal room are located either below, above, or adjacent to the event hall or large performance hall. Further, the medical examination center is not only situated near the small hall, but its layout wraps around it. While each of the five kinds of facilities has its own distinct space, and they are all easy to navigate and access, from an acoustical perspective, the facilities are tangled together in a matrixed layout. Accordingly, from the very start of our design work, we engaged in focused sound isolation planning for the areas of the structure where our experience told us to anticipate noise problems. Specifically, we designed the following sound isolation solutions:

* A double-thickness layer of concrete between the large performance hall and the event hall.
* A floating floor design for the floors of the large performance, event, and small halls.
* A floating framework for the rehearsal room.
* An extra sound isolation layer between the small hall and the medical examination center, in addition to the structural walls separating the two spaces.

<< Course Corrections: When the Purpose Changes So Must the Sound Isolation >>
When planning sound isolation solutions, knowing in advance the layout and proximity of facilities is meaningless unless one also knows how each facility will be used. If the intended uses--and the volume of sound generated or level of quiet needed--change, the sound isolation required necessarily changes as well. At the initial planning stage, the space that eventually became the event hall was designated as a banquet room, and we were told that the venue would not have karaoke singing or rock-style music. Based on this description, we incorporated a combination of floating floor design and a double-thickness layer between the event hall and the large performance hall, setting our sound isolation goal at 80 dB (at 500 Hz).

However, in the midst of construction, the initially planned banquet hall changed radically, in purpose as well as in name. The management of the, now, event hall was separated from that of the large performance hall, and at the same time, it became clear that little control would be exercised over how the event hall is used. Now it was entirely possible that the event hall would be used as a venue for events that include not only karaoke singing and rock music, but even performances of the large Japanese taiko drums.

The floor space of the event hall measures 1,500 m2 (1.794 sq. yds.), covered by a ceiling 7 meters high. Realistically, one must admit that the kind of large-scale banquet that would fill such a space, in a public facility, would only be scheduled rarely. Therefore, it made sense to alter the purpose of the hall to accommodate a variety of events. The projected frequency of the event hall's use rose considerably with this decision. At the same time, however, the importance of providing appropriate and effective sound isolation between the event hall and the large performance hall increased, as there would now be more occasions when the two halls would be used simultaneously.

<< Building Understanding with Our Client and All Parties to the Project >>
I arranged to measure the sound levels generated in the event hall during a rehearsal of the Japanese taiko drum group that planned to perform there. Based on these measurements, I calculated the revised sound isolation required, and considered the options that would make the new sound isolation goals a reality.

Adjusting our acoustical design was only part of the work required by the changed use of the event hall. We also needed to make our client understand the implications. Aided by the Technical Research Center of Toda Kensetsu (the project's general contractor), we used speakers to produce sounds comparable to those that would be transmitted outward from the event hall if the original acoustical design plan remained untouched. Representatives of the Ward government listened to this simulation and agreed with us that a remedy was required. As a result, we obtained the go-ahead to add a sound isolating anti-vibration ceiling to the event hall's design, as well as add anti-vibration supports in the event hall's walls.

Upon completion of the building's construction, we measured the sound isolation of the event hall and obtained a reading of 85 dB (at 500 Hz). We also listened to a performance of Japanese taiko drums in the completed facility. The maximum sound volume of the drums in the event hall registered 105-110 dB(A). If the drummers are located directly below the seating area of the large performance hall, the level of transmitted sound is NC-28. This means that the drums can be faintly heard, but will not cause a disturbing level of noise, except for classical music concerts. In retrospect, it seems clear that we owe the successful outcome of this difficult, mid-project "course correction" to our providing a simulation of the transmitted sound using the original acoustical design. The consensus that we gained from our client, Edogawa Ward, and from the architectural and construction companies, whose cooperation was also essential, enabled the effective implementation of this late-stage design change.

<< The Large Performance Hall and Small Hall >>
The Large Performance Hall
The Large Performance Hall seats an audience of 750 persons and is designed as a multipurpose hall. At the architectural design stage, this hall seemed to be suited more for theatrical performances than classical music concerts. However, since its size is also appropriate for piano recitals and similar musical performances, Edogawa Ward requested that we maximize the hall's acoustical potential for this kind of use. As our involvement in the project began at a point that made it impossible to effect any major changes in the shape of the hall, we concentrated our efforts on changes to the shape and interior finishing of the hall's walls in order to improve the hall's environment as much as possible for the performance of classical music.

In addition to the Large Performance Hall, this building has a Small Hall that seats up to 300 persons. Both the stage and seating of the Small Hall can be reconfigured in a variety of layouts to answer a range of performance needs.

<< A Basement Cinema, too >>
Most unusually for a Japanese hall, the basement level of the new structure houses a cinema. The movie house part of the project has two screens, one with an audience seating of 127 seats, and the other accommodating 149 viewers. By Japanese standards, these are both small capacity cinemas, but they are both equipped with top-notch, state-of-the-art hardware and will feature first-run movies. The movie scene down in the basement of this new community center rates as a separate world all its own.

<< A Long-awaited Facility with a Bright Future >>
For the people who live in Edogawa Ward, the new community center--with its excellent subway-line access and diverse facilities--is surely a long-awaited dream come true. Every area of the facility has achieved a sufficient amount of sound isolation to ensure enjoyable and efficient use of all of the building's spaces. Hopefully, the local community will make frequent use of this new place to gather, perform, and carry out many other activities.

The observation tower is open until 9 p.m. every evening and, being publicly funded, is free of charge. It is a great place for a view of 21st century Japan.
For more information on the new community center, Edogawa Kumin Hall, please call 011-81-3-5676-2211.)

Ojai Music Festival

by Yasuhisa Toyota

Ojai (pronounced "oh-hi") is a little town less than two hours' drive north from Los Angeles up the California coast. For several days each year, people flock here for a contemporary music festival. This year, I had the luck to attend the festival, which took place over five days, from June 2 through June 6.

The name Ojai comes from a Churrash Indian word meaning "moon." But pronunciation of the "j" in the name's spelling, and the town's Spanish architecture reflect strong historical ties to the Spanish origins of early Europeans who settled in California. Driving up from Los Angeles, I felt as if I had crossed the border to another country. The area is well-known as a resort destination, with its numerous hot-spring spas and golf course. The year-round local population numbers a sparse 8,000, and two-thirds of the Ojai Festival audience hark from Los Angeles.

The festival is primarily staged outdoors in a park at the center of town. The stage is covered by an orchestra shell (as pictured here), but the audience seating is simply the park's grounds, with some trees dotting the landscape. Any sound from the stage to the audience must rely on the electrical sound system for amplification. The audience area near the stage has bench seating. Behind an expansive portion of grass enables other listeners to find a spot wherever they please, creating a picnic-like atmosphere.

The stage's orchestra shell does not have a good reputation with the festival's performers, and there are plans to replace it in the future.

<< A Surprisingly Rustic Stage ... >>
Before attending the Ojai Festival, I not only knew nothing about it, I had not so much as even heard the festival's name. Was I in for a surprise! When I was told that the Los Angeles Philharmonic plays at the festival annually as its resident orchestra, I assumed that the festival would be a large-scale event. Yet when I arrived at the venue, I saw a setting that I estimated would accommodate an audience of at most 1,000 persons. (I was later told that as many as 1,500 people crowd in to hear the performances.) Nor did the stage look large enough for all of the Los Angeles Philharmonic's players. At best, one might be able to fit a chamber orchestra on the Ojai Festival's stage. The orchestra shell did not impress me, either, being just an arch-shaped unit, simply constructed of wood and only several meters high. Indeed, the entire Los Angeles Philharmonic cannot fit on this stage. When they perform here, an additional temporary stage must be used to extend the stage area by approximately two meters. Consequently, the orchestra's string sections have virtually no overhead coverage at all.

<< ... and an Even More Surprising Illustrious History >>
My surprise was even greater when I found a book at the festival which recounts its illustrious history. The Festival began in 1947, making this year the festival's 53rd annual performances--a truly venerable long run! Each year, the festival chooses a music director who is responsible for the festival's programming and performers for that year. The list of notable past musical directors is astounding, including such names as Igor Stravinsky, Aaron Copeland, Pierre Boulez, Michael Tilson-Thomas, Kent Nagano, John Adams, Mitsuko Uchida, and so on.

<< Esa-Pekka Salonen and a Finnish Line-up for 1999 >>
But my greatest surprise at the 1999 Ojai Festival was yet to come when I heard the performances. This year, the music director and conductor was Esa-Pekka Salonen, the music director of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. Maestro Salonen used the opportunity to focus on the contemporary music and musicians of his homeland, Finland, by programming mostly works by Finnish composers and inviting Finnish performers including composer Magnus Lindberg, who was Ojai Festival's 1999 Resident Composer.

Below is an excerpt from this year's festival program.

June 4, 1999 at Libbey Bowl, 8:15 p.m.
Esa-Pekka Salonen: conductor, Anssi Karttunen: cello,
Laura Claycomb: soprano, Los Angeles Philharmonic
Esa-Pekka Salonen: Giro (U.S. premiere)
Magnus Lindberg: Cello Concerto (U.S. Premiere)
Esa-Pekka Salonen: Five Images After Sappho (world premiere)
Jean Sibelius: Symphony No. 1

June 5, 1999 at Libbey Bowl, 10:00 a.m. (Special Event Family Concert)
Toimii Ensemble
Riku Niemi: "Toimii Goes Opera"

June 5, 1999 at Libbey Bowl, 8:30 p.m.
Esa-Pekka Salonen: conductor, Anssi Karttunen: cello, Gloria Cheng: piano,
Anne Diener Zentner: flute, Raynor Carroll: percussion,
John Magnussen: percussion, The Los Angeles Philharmonic New Music Group
Lou Harrison: Concert for Flute and Percussion
Kaija Saariaho: Amers, for Cello and Ensemble
Esa-Pekka Salonen: Yta II, for Solo Piano
John Adams: Chamber Symphony

<< Incredibly Outstanding Performances >>
I am not enough of a contemporary music expert to have been either impressed or disappointed by the festival program's listings. But I was truly unprepared for the superbly high quality of the performances I was privileged to hear. I was equally astounded at the high quality of the listening audience. Despite the large number of unfamiliar U.S. and world premieres on all of the programs, the audience listened attentively to all of the works and gave responsive applause after each performance. It was clear to all present that the audience thoroughly enjoyed the musical offerings of the festival.

An excellent example of the creativity and spirit of the Ojai Festival programs was the Special Event Family Concert. This Saturday morning concert was designed as an educational experience for local children. Children attended free of charge and adults paid a nominal $6.00 admission. A Finnish ensemble of seven virtuoso musicians, using the cello, guitar, percussion, keyboard, and other instruments, performed a show-like work entitled "Toimii Goes Opera." Fragments of well-known melodies mixed with elements of contemporary music and harmonies, all rendered by the musicians while they cavorted with clownish playfulness. The musicians kept the audience of children entranced and laughing from start to finish. I was amazed at these performers' ability to make contemporary music fun even for children.

<< Content Triumphs Over Venue >>
In Japan, we hear all too often about the imbalance between a plethora of classical music "hardware"-referring to the many concert halls springing up throughout the country-and the lack of "software"-meaning innovative programming-that will bring the hardware to life. Many Japanese assume that the hardware must precede the software, and would be astounded to learn that a rural locale such as Ojai, with its minimal concert hardware, hosts an annual festival of the high quality exhibited at the 1999 festival. But Ojai flourished with only the basics and is only now, in its 53rd season, concerning itself with improving its physical facilities.

To all who have any interest in experiencing this incredible musical phenomenon, in which extremely limited physical hardware are no handicap to magnificent performances, I urge you to attend an Ojai Festival soon. Maestro Simon Rattle (recently named the next music director of the Berlin Philharmonic), will be the festival's music director in the year 2000. The dates are June 2 through June 4.

Nagata Acoustics News 99-7iNo.139j
Issued : July 25, 1999

Nagata Acoustics Inc.

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