Quietness, Comfortable Sound and Excellent Acoustics NAGATA ACOUSTICS

News 10-11 (No.275)

Issued : November 25, 2010

[ Japanese Version ]

The New Dai-ichi Hino Elementary School, Kindergarten and Gotanda Cultural Center

by Akira Ono

The scale model of the whole project
Scale model of the whole project

On September 18, 2010, a new building that combines childhood education and cultural facilities held its opening in Shinagawa City (one of Tokyo's 23 special wards). The building includes the merged Dai-ichi Hino Elementary School, a kindergarten, preschool and daycare facility and Gotanda Cultural Center, which houses a public education and information center, Gotanda Public Library, a concert hall and a planetarium. The cultural center's opening ceremonies in the center's new hall demonstrated the favorable relationship that will be fostered among the building's constituents, with choral works sung by children who attend Dai-ichi Hino Elementary School and Sukoyaka-en Kindergarten and a performance by Shin Orchestra, an amateur classical music ensemble of Shinagawa City residents.

<< The Project and Shinagawa's Consecutive Elementary and Middle School System >>

The new building's unconventional collocation of a public children's daycare center, kindergarten and elementary school with a multiuse cultural center has its origins in Shinagawa City's initiative to reorganize how it divides the nine years of primary education between public elementary and middle schools. In 2006, Shinagawa combined Dai-ni Hino Elementary School and Hino Middle School under one roof in the Osaki section of the city. As a result, the middle school's 7,600 sq. m. (1.9 acre) site became available for use by Dai-ichi Elementary School and the local kindergarten, Sukoyaka-en.

The city took advantage of the elementary school's and Sukoyaka-en's planned move to the middle school site by adding to the school's construction project the rebuilding of the old and worn, adjacent Gotanda Cultural Center building. The schools and the cultural center became one renewal project. The city also added into the project an expansion of Sukoyaka-en kindergarten to create daycare space for children younger than kindergarten age.

As of this year, Shinagawa City has four combined elementary and middle schools and, by 2013, plans to have six combined elementary and middle schools. In recent decades, the Tokyo metropolitan area has experienced a marked decrease in the number of school-age children and authorities have given parents and children the option to choose which middle schools their children attend. As a result, some local, public middle schools lack sufficient enrollment numbers. Shinagawa's establishment of combined elementary and middle schools has helped stem the trend away from local public middle schools and increased the likelihood that parents and students will choose the local public middle school.

The combined elementary and middle school system also replaces the "6 - 3" elementary and middle school structure with the more recently conceived "4 - 3 - 2" approach. Within the Tokyo metropolitan area, Adachi, Minato, Shibuya and Nerima cities also have public schools with the new structure and school administrators in other parts of Japan have expressed interest by visiting and observing Shinagawa City schools.

<< Overview of the Project and Nagata Acoustics' Participation >>

The firm of Rui Design developed the architectural design for the project and Toda Corporation of Japan served as the general contractor. Nagata Acoustics' participation focused primarily on the classical music concert hall in Gotanda Cultural Center and the center's five studio rooms intended for music practice, rehearsals and other performing arts.

The building is a reinforced concrete structure with six stories above ground. Gotanda Cultural Center has a classical music concert hall, five music studios, an 86-seat planetarium, a Japanese tatami-mat room for tea ceremony use and ancillary rooms. The center's planners anticipate that, because the center and the school share the same building, students attending the elementary school, kindergarten and preschool daycare program will make frequent use of the center.

the school courtyard
School courtyard

A distinctive feature of this building's campus is the school courtyard, which has a large grass lawn instead of pavement. Students and daycare children play and run barefoot in the green grass. School teachers and local volunteers maintain the lawn that they grew from seed, without help from a professional gardener. The rich color of the well-tended lawn creates an impressively beautiful green oasis, as can be seen in the accompanying photo.

<< Hall Room Acoustical Design >>

The project's requirements defined the cultural center's hall as a 250-seat, small scale hall with acoustics designed specifically for classical music performances. A plan view of the hall's design would show that the hall's side walls follow zigzag lines from the front to the rear of the hall. Using computer simulations, we determined and specified the exact angle of each "zig" and "zag" of the side walls, so that early sound reflections evenly reach the center seating of audience rows to the rear of each angled side wall section. As a result, the overall shape of the hall has a somewhat convex appearance.

In addition to our focus on the angles of the side walls, we specified sound absorbing, ribbed construction for the side wall sections that face toward the rear of the audience seating, thereby dispersing the sound absorbing surfaces throughout the hall. Also, at midpoints of the side walls we added eaves to further promote the creation of sound reflections. To make these eaves function as architectural design elements, we adopted the use of glass for the eaves' material and, by placing light fixtures in the walls, created an appealing lighting design in the hall.

the cultural center's hall
Cultural center's hall

Among the five music studios, the largest one measures 200 sq. m. (2,153 sq. ft) and has a ceiling that extends two floors high. These dimensions make it appropriate for orchestra and brass band practice and rehearsals. This music studio can also be used for piano recitals. The programming for each of the other studios specified its uses, which included dance and exercise classes and band practice among others. We provided acoustical design specifications according to the planned uses of each studio.

<< Sound Isolation Design >>

Because Gotanda Cultural Center and the elementary school share the same building, the project included strong sound isolation requirements to prevent sound generated in the hall and studios from disturbing classroom activities in the school. In particular, our sound isolation plan needed to take into consideration the location of the center's music studios directly below the school and the expectation that some of the studios will be used for Japanese taiko drum practice.

Our sound isolation strategy included implementing an anti-vibration and sound isolating structure for each of the studios and, in addition, installing a double slab between the ceiling above the studios and the elementary school. Similarly, because the cultural center's layout placed Gotanda Public Library and the education and information center's lounge, seminar and lecture rooms on the floor directly above the concert hall, our sound isolation design needed to actively address sound isolation between these floors. To isolate these facilities from the concert hall, we used an anti-vibration and sound isolating structural design for this part of the building.

Between each of the music studios and between the music studios and the classrooms above them, we completely achieved our design's target sound isolation performance level of between D-80 and D-85. Nevertheless, at these target values, individual perceptions can cause disagreement about whether sound from an adjacent space can or cannot be heard. Especially with regard to the sound of the Japanese taiko drum, and depending on the exact location of a person in an adjacent room, it is extremely challenging to implement a design that, from the perspective of human hearing, completely isolates the taiko drum sound.

As part of this project's close-out activities, we invited an accomplished local taiko drummer to play a taiko drum in the studios while Shinagawa City and Dai-ichi Hino Elementary School representatives listened in adjacent rooms and in classroom space above the studios. Most of the people who participated in this sound isolation demonstration and who listened from the classroom reported that if the classroom was very quiet and they concentrated on trying to hear sound from the studio below, they could hear the taiko drummer to some extent. However, when the classroom had the typical amount of ambient noise that could be expected during school hours, the ambient noise cancelled their ability to hear the taiko drummer.

Evaluations of sound isolation performance based on individual human perceptions routinely result in a range of opinions about the effectiveness of the sound isolation. Even when some sound can be heard, a client's decision that the design or construction of a project needs augmentation depends on the client's and the end-users' understanding of how the sound can be heard in the adjacent space. When consensus can be achieved about these individual perceptions, the situation can often be resolved by the acoustical consultant providing practical advice for using the space. For this project, the city's and school's representatives were satisfied with the levels of sound isolation that they confirmed during the taiko drumming demonstration.

<< The Value of a Concert Hall in an Elementary School Building >>

In this writer's opinion, the proximity and availability of Gotanda Cultural Center's classical music concert hall to Dai-ichi Hino Elementary School and its students and families offer huge opportunities for classical music to flourish in the community. This hall's 250 seat size means that it can be easily used by local residents.

On the other hand, halls in local cultural centers typically serve the dual role of providing performance space to residents and stimulating classical music appreciation by serving as the venue for performances by visiting professional musicians and ensembles. Gotanda Cultural Center's small size will make hall-sponsored programming difficult to implement. I hope that Shinagawa's local residents will often use this new hall and that the availability of the hall will encourage and foster increasingly high levels of performances for the enjoyment of musicians and audience alike. I look forward to staying informed about the performances in this hall.

The new Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health

by Daniel Beckmann

Exterior of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health (Photo: Courtesy of Keep Memory Alive)
Exterior of Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health
(Photo: Courtesy of Keep Memory Alive)

Las Vegas, Nevada is caught in a wave of contemporary architecture. Within the last five years, several new projects have been completed which push the traditional architectural boundaries of the desert entertainment and gambling mecca. These pjects are not limited to large casinos and hotels, they include smaller projects such as the new Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health designed by Frank Gehry.

The Center is composed of two elements: an outpatient treatment center with thirteen rooms and medical and non-profit offices. The second, more prominent element on the site is the "Activities Center", a multi-use event space for Center use and outside rentals.

Nagata Acoustics was engaged by Gehry Partners to perform an acoustical analysis of the Activities Center in order to create a pleasing acoustical environment for all occasions.

The Activities Center is one large room formed by the highly sculptural exterior, seamlessly merging floor and ceiling to create an open area of more than 850sq. m., with ceilings reaching more than 24m above the floor.

Interior of Event Space (Photo by Y. Toyota)
Interior of Event Space (Photo by Y. Toyota)

The unique, undulating form and extreme height of the interior space present challenges in creating a pleasant acoustical environment. These challenges include detrimental echoes, focusing and excessive reverberation. We used our computer simulation software to strategically identify those locations on the white gypsum walls between the windows which should receive absorptive treatment. Eventually, more than 1000sq. m. of BASWAphon was installed in the space. BASWAphon(July 2010 issue) was selected as the acoustical plaster material for its high quality of finish, and because it was the only acoustical plaster material available at the time of being curved in two dimensions.

In April of 2010, we measured the reverberation time of the space and found it to be ideal for natural acoustics for a space with such a large volume, more than 13,000 cube m. The mid-frequency reverberation time was measured at 2.1 seconds.

For amplified music, expected to be a frequent occurrence in the space, the space required some further adjustment. Draperies were introduced at the large glass wall entry to the space for general reverberation control, as well as on three sides of the stage to control monitor speaker and main speaker off-axis energy. A listening test with sound system and live performers confirmed a positive adjustment to the space, making it also a pleasant environment for amplified music.

The building opened on May 21, 2010.

Toppan Hall Celebrates Its 10th Anniversary

by Toshiko Fukuchi

the stage

the audience seating
Audience seating

Ten years ago, on October 1, 2000, amidst the many large and small concert halls vying for audiences and attention, a modestly sized, 408-seat hall arrived on the Tokyo classical music scene. Toppan Printing Company, Ltd. commissioned the hall in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of the company's founding and appropriately named the venue Toppan Hall. On September 30, the eve of Toppan Hall's 10th anniversary, a gala party celebrated the hall's ongoing strong and vibrant presence in Tokyo's highly competitive performance venue environment.

Before Toppan Hall opened, some observers wondered about the viability of a hall that has a small number of seats and is at least a 10-minute walk from the nearest Japan Railway and subway stations. Toppan Hall overcame both of these seeming disadvantages to become a strongly favored concert hall by both Tokyo's classical music audiences and performers alike.

<<A Small Hall, in an Out-of-the-Way Location >>

In connection with writing this article about Toppan Hall, I met with Business Development Manager Mr. Hiroki Sasano, whose career has been associated with the hall since its opening. Our conversation naturally touched on the doubts some people had about the hall 10 years ago. Mr. Sasano shared with me a thought told to him by Toppan's then president (now the company's chairman) around the time of the hall's opening. Toppan's president had used the analogy of a restaurant, and said that if a restaurant serves extraordinarily delicious food, then, even if it is located in a place that is difficult to find, its atmosphere of being a hidden retreat will become part of its attraction and charm. Likewise, said the then president, if Toppan Hall will deliver fine performances, then even though the hall is in an out-of-the-way location, the hall will be able to rise above this obstacle and be sustained as a gem of a venue, hidden from some, and loved by those who truly appreciate fine music performances.

According to Mr. Sasano, fliers for hall performances no longer need to include a map with directions to the hall and he does not hear patrons gripe about the hall's difficult to find location or its distance from public transportation. He considers these points to be indications of this hall's acceptance as a concert venue among Tokyo's classical music concertgoers.

<<A Mission to Discover and Nurture Musical Talent >>

Toppan Hall sponsors more than 30 concerts a year. Many of these concerts sell out all their tickets, and the more popular programs have a reputation for selling out quickly. Many of the hall's concerts have programs played only at this hall, and Mr. Sasano told me that some patrons come by plane or bullet train specifically to attend these performances.

Also, many of the international performers who appear on Toppan Hall's calendar have performed at this hall before and developed an attachment to it, requesting it as their Tokyo venue whenever they tour Japan. With its 408-seat capacity, one might be tempted to question whether concert management companies can afford to use this venue. At the 10th anniversary gathering, representatives from some of these companies spoke about why they sometimes prefer Toppan Hall. The reasons they mentioned include the ability to produce more concerts that sell out the entire hall and the loyalty of patrons who repeatedly purchase tickets for Toppan Hall concerts. They also said that the hall attracts an especially refined audience clientele, that the back-stage area is well equipped and that working with Toppan Hall's stage personnel is a pleasant experience.

When Toppan Printing built Toppan Hall, the company gave the hall the mission of discovering and nurturing musical talent. In keeping with this goal, the hall sponsors two very popular concert series, the Lunchtime Concerts and Espoir Concert Series. Nowadays, earning an opportunity to perform at a Toppan Hall Lunchtime Concert has become something of a rite of passage for aspiring Japanese classical musicians because of the stiff competition and rigorous audition process involved in being invited by the hall to perform.

The Espoir Concert Series features multiple concerts by one artist at a time, giving audiences the opportunity to experience how the performances of talented musicians become enriched and evolve across a series of concerts in the same venue. The roster of artists that Toppan Hall hosts in its Espoir Concert Series reads like a who's who of some of today's most promising young talent. In addition, starting in 2003, Toppan Hall became the venue for all categories of the elimination rounds of the annual Japan Music Competition. Each year, a number of Japan's best young classical musicians launch their careers into the spotlight by performing at Toppan Hall.

Toppan Hall's 2010-2011 concert series began on October 1. This year's calendar celebrates the hall's 10th anniversary with an outstanding line-up of programs and performers. This is a wonderful year to come find and experience this little, secret hall, hidden in an out-of-the-way location, where many Tokyo classic music lovers come again and again.

Toppan Hall's English home page can be found at http://www.toppanhall.com/en/

Nagata Acoustics Inc.

(Tokyo Office)
Hongo Segawa Bldg. 3F, 2-35-10 Hongo
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Tel: +81-3-5800-2671, Fax: +81-3-5800-2672

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Los Angeles, CA 90025, U.S.A.
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75011 Paris, France
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 21 44 25, Fax: +33 (0)1 40 21 24 00

E-mail: info@nagata.co.jp

[ Japanese Version ]