Quietness, Comfortable Sound and Excellent Acoustics NAGATA ACOUSTICS

News 11-05 (No.281)

Issued : May 25, 2011

[ Japanese Version ]

"Auditorium in the Woods" Opens in Seya City, Yokohama

by Ayako Hakozaki

Renewal project before and after site layouts (Source: Seya City Web site home page)
Renewal project before and after site layouts (Source: Seya City Web site home page)
Renewal project before and after site layouts
(Seya City Web site)

Auditorium stage
Auditorium stage

Auditorium audience seating
Auditorium audience seating

On November 3, 2010, at a location just an 8-minute walk from Sotetsu Main Train Line's Mitsukyou Station, a new public auditorium opened to serve Yokohama's Seya City. The opening day events included imaginative, family-oriented concerts such as a performance by a local musical combo that plays Indonesian bamboo instruments and a classical music concert played by musicians dressed in rabbit, fox and other animal costumes. The opening day event attracted such a large number of people from the local community that after the auditorium filled to capacity some people had to be turned away due to lack of seats. This immediate and overwhelming popularity demonstrates the longing and enthusiasm of Seya City's residents for their new auditorium.

<< Project Overview >>

This public auditorium project is part of a renewal program that replaces the Seya City Municipal Office Building and the former Seya City Public Auditorium, which were designed by the architectural firm AXS SATOW, Inc. and built in 1971. The renewal program also incorporates the adjacent Futatsubashi Park site, combining the two areas into a new, integrated city campus with a new layout for the buildings and other facilities.

The renewal program adds an underground parking structure and other up-to-date features, including improved accessibility. The buildings constructed in 1971 had deteriorated over time due to use and age and they also lacked appropriate access for the disabled. The program's funding, ongoing operations and finances were arranged through a Private Finance Initiative (PFI). The PFI special purpose entity formed is named Green Facilities Seya Co., Ltd.

The PFI includes six key participating companies. Daiwa Lease Co., Ltd has the role of corporate representative and enterprise manager, Harima B-Stem Co, Ltd manages ongoing maintenance and facilities and Kyoritz Inc. is responsible for the auditorium's concert and event management and daily hall operations. Kajima Corporation serves as the initiative's general contractor and NTT Facilities, Inc. prepared the architectural designs and office interior layouts and served as construction manager. Nippon Restaurant Enterprise Co., Ltd manages the retail and restaurant spaces.

Nagata Acoustics participated as the acoustical consultant. We provided room acoustics and sound isolation designs, on-site construction phase management, acoustical measuring and other services for the program's room acoustical designs and sound isolation and noise mitigation needs.

<< Scheduling Demolition and New Construction to Minimize Auditorium Closure Time >>

The initiative's planners wanted to minimize the downtime between when the old auditorium closed and the new auditorium opened. To accomplish this, they decided to build the new auditorium on part of the Futatsubashi Park land and construct the new city government offices building on the site of the old auditorium, starting construction of the new auditorium first, while the old auditorium continued in operation.

Construction of the new auditorium began in January 2010 with a short, 10-month schedule to complete the building. The old auditorium remained in use until October 24, 2010, just 10 days before the new auditorium opened. When the community's cultural activities moved to the new auditorium, workers began demolishing the old auditorium building. Kajima Corporation currently has construction of the new city government office building underway and plans for the building to be ready for occupancy in March 2012.

<< The Auditorium in the Woods Multipurpose Hall >>

The new Auditorium in the Woods facility features a 502-seat auditorium, rehearsal rooms, a conference room and a Japanese tatami-mat room. The auditorium is a multipurpose hall that will be used for a wide range of performing arts and events, such as music concerts, plays, seminars and lectures.

To provide appropriate acoustics for classical music and other non-amplified music concerts, we designed an on-stage sound reflection panel system that, when deployed, configures the hall to a basically shoebox-shape hall. We also specified a high ceiling height of 12 m. (39.4 ft) above the audience seating area.

Sound diffusing elements on the auditorium's side walls

Sound diffusing elements on the auditorium's side walls

In this auditorium, the side walls and the wall at the rear of the stage are made of concrete. To add sound diffusing elements to these surfaces and soften the sound reflections, we covered these surfaces with tiles of random thickness. We were able to achieve this labor-intensive design despite the overall short construction time planned for the facility. The tiled wall design benefits the auditorium acoustically and also adds a visually appealing finish to the hall interior.

Programming for the auditorium anticipated frequent use of the auditorium for plays, symposia and other events that rely on communicating with the audience through the spoken word. For these uses, our acoustical design prioritized achieving excellent clarity of speech. We installed retractable, sound absorbing curtains (approx.100 sq. m.) on the upper portions of the auditorium side walls.

To configure the auditorium for the longest possible sound reverberation time, the sound reflection panel system is set on stage and the side walls' sound absorbing curtains are retracted. Conversely, for the shortest possible sound reverberation time, the stage is configured with a stage curtain and the side walls' sound absorbing curtains are extended across the walls' upper portions. Our variable reverberation time design strategy achieved the significant difference of 0.7 seconds between the longest sound reverberation time and shortest sound reverberation time configurations.

<<The Auditorium in the Woods Rehearsal Rooms >>

Seya City's old public auditorium did not have any rehearsal or practice rooms. The local community strongly requested that the new facility add this functionality and the Auditorium in the Woods has two rehearsal rooms.

The building layout located the two rehearsal rooms adjacent to each other and placed only a single corridor between these two rooms and the rear wall of the auditorium stage. To help obtain a high degree of sound isolation among the three spaces, we installed two sets of doors (with vestibules in between the outer and inner doors) at the entrances of both rehearsal rooms and the anti-vibration and noise isolating structural design.

Artist's rendering of how the park, city government offices and Auditorium in the Woods will look when complete (Source: Seya City Web site home page)
Artist's rendering of how
the park, city government offices and Auditorium in the Woods
will look when complete (Seya City Web site)

<<Remaining Campus Projects >>

The city government office building will complete next spring. In April of the following year, the park landscaping and facilities, and the underground parking structure will be ready for public use.

When all of the planned facilities complete, the auditorium will truly be in a green setting "in the woods". Together with the residents of Seya City, I look forward to seeing the completed campus two years from now.

The Seya City public auditorium has a Web site at http://www.seyakokaido.hall-info.jp/.

DVD Review: "Tokyo's St. Mary's Cathedral - The Birth of Its Pipe Organ"

by Dr. Minoru Nagata, Founder of Nagata Acoustics

This article reviews a new DVD that chronicles the story of the new pipe organ at Tokyo's St. Mary's Cathedral from the organ's planning and design through its May, 2004 inaugural concert. NHK Enterprises produced and published this captivating documentary about the birth of this musical instrument.

The DVD begins with the cathedral's 2003 Easter Mass. The cathedral's old pipe organ, used by the cathedral for 40 years, is played for the last time. The camera provides close-up views of the interior of this organ's three-tier keyboard, 22 stops and electric action, and shows the workings of its stop action relay. Then the story shifts to the birthplace of the new pipe organ.

<<The Mascioni Pipe Organ Builders >>

Beautiful views of northern Italy's greenery and lakes introduce viewers to the small town of Azzio, home to Mascioni Organ Builders. Mascioni is one of the Italy's oldest and most venerable pipe organ builders and Mascioni pipe organs can be found in churches throughout Italy. In 1829, a pipe organ built by the Mascioni family and installed in the Duomo di Milano drew great acclaim and established the fine reputation of Mascioni pipe organs.

With company president Eugenio Mascioni at the helm, the Mascioni pipe organ shop employees about 30 people. The organ builders live locally, in an environment where even the roof tiles have a beautiful, uniquely Italian, light red color. The Mascioni organ builders made the components of the new organ for St. Mary's Cathedral here.

<<Recording Every Step of Building the New Pipe Organ >>

The design for the new pipe organ completed in November 2001 and the Mascioni shop began building the instrument in March 2002. The DVD records every activity and process needed, from the work of felling fir trees in the Italian forest for the wood materials, to processing the raw materials in the organ builder's shop, to the making of each part and then putting all the pieces together at St. Mary's Cathedral, performing the voicing and, when the pipe organ was ready, unveiling it at a commemorative concert.

From start to finish, not including the design period, these activities and processes required 850 days. The DVD records every detail, making it a most valuable documentary of how a pipe organ comes into existence. Moreover, the film continually augments the visual record with audio clips and explanations that enhance viewers understanding of how a pipe organ works, including introducing us to how the keyboard to pipes mechanism functions, how the pipe organ generates sound, what role the stops play, how different pipes produce sounds of different colors and what happens during the final tuning, called "voicing".

<<The Late Renaissance-Early Baroque Sound of the St. Mary's Cathedral Pipe Organ >>

Tokyo's St. Mary's Cathedral
Tokyo's St. Mary's Cathedral

Many venues in Japan have pipe organs and these pipe organs span a wide variety of sizes, styles and tone colors. The pipe organ at St. Mary's Cathedral has the distinctive tones of Italian pipe organs of the Late Renaissance and early Baroque periods. The Mascioni organ builders modeled the pipe organ on a 16th century instrument installed at the Church of San Maurizio in Milan's Monastero Maggiore.

Pipe organist Lorenzo Ghielmi served as the consultant to Tokyo St. Mary's Cathedral employed for the selection of its pipe organ and he specified the Italian Renaissance style of pipe organ as his preference. The DVD has a segment in which Mr. Ghielmi plays a composition by Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643) on the Church of San Maurizio pipe organ as the camera shows viewers the stained glass windows of the church.

<<Overview of the History of Pipe Organs and Pipe Organs in Japan >>

The DVD includes an introduction to the history of pipe organs, touching on various styles and giving viewers the opportunity to both view and listen to each organ. This chronological historical overview traces organ-type instruments from before the Common Era.

One segment of the film demonstrates the portative organ that was popular in Europe during the Middle Ages. In addition, the DVD introduces viewers to the pipe organ used during Buddhist religious services and ceremonies at Tokyo's Tsukiji Honganji Temple.

<<Installation and Voicing of St. Mary Cathedral's New Pipe Organ >>

Before the new pipe organ at St. Mary's Cathedral could be installed, the old organ needed to be dismantled and removed. This work began on January 7, 2003. By the time this work completed, the components of the new pipe organ arrived and four Mascioni organ builders came to Japan to begin on-site building the new instrument.

The on-site building of the new pipe organ completed on March 9, 2004. Thereafter, Mr. Ghielmi and the Mascioni voicing expert together completed the final adjustments. Then it was time for the new instrument to be heard in the cathedral.

<< The Pipe Organ's Inaugural Concert >>

On May 8, 2004, the cathedral held a combined commemorative ceremony and inaugural concert. I attended as a member of the general audience. Of course, the occasion filled every seat in the cathedral.

As soon as I stepped inside the cathedral, I saw the large cab of a crane. Only later did I learn that the crane had been brought into the cathedral to capture the ceremony and performance for the documentary. During the ceremony and the concert, the crane moved around from time to time at some height above the heads of the people in the audience. When the concert ended, I left with the impression of a rather unnerving concert experience.


<< Discovering the Pipe Organ Documentary DVD >>

I first learned of this exceptional, two-hour DVD about the pipe organ at St. Mary's Cathedral when NHK BS (NHK's satellite broadcasting service) re-broadcast it. The interviews with the pipe organ builders in the bucolic north Italian setting of their workplace, the filming the refined sound of an antique pipe organ played in its historical and venerated church, the combination of visual and audio means used to explain the pipe organ's mechanisms and structure, all of these elements of this DVD epitomize NHK's productions at their best and stirred in me a sense of warm appreciation for the aesthetics and detail of this documentary.

Seven years have passed since the pipe organ's inaugural concert at St. Mary's Cathedral and at last I understand and agree with the decision to let a crane move about above the audience during the ceremony and the performance. This DVD is a must-see for anyone interested in pipe organs and is also well worth viewing by everyone. Currently, the DVD is available from the Tokyo St. Mary's Cathedral shop (Tel: 001-81-3-3941-3029), where it retails for ¥3,800.

Theatre Consultant Toshiya Kusaka Speaks at Nagata Acoustics' Office

by Fumiaki Sakamaki

Nagata Acoustics periodically invites individuals with specific relevant expertise to be featured guests at our employee Study Salons. On Monday, April 4, 2011, we welcomed architect-trained theatre consultant Toshiya Kusaka to our Study Salon and listened to him present his ideas on the theme of "Where are Japan's theatres and concert hall-type venues headed?"

Mr.Toshiya Kusaka
Mr.Toshiya Kusaka

<<Mr. Kusaka's Professional Background >>

Mr. Kusaka graduated from Tokai University, where he majored in architecture. After earning his degree, he was at Gekijo Kogaku Kenkyusho (subsidiary of Shiki Theatre Company), thereafter, he traveled to England to pursue further studies.

Currently, Mr. Kusaka is the principal theatre consultant and owner of Kukan Sozo Kenkyusho ("Arts Space Factory"). He participates as the theatre consultant on new hall and theatre projects throughout Japan and he also often takes on assignments from visiting theatre companies from overseas to direct their stage engineering and technical needs when these theatre companies tour Japan.

Mr. Kusaka also devotes his expertise and time to Japan's Theatre and Entertainment Technology Association and Public Buildings Association. Through his tireless endeavors with these and other industry organizations, he promotes education, contributes to the development and adoption of policies and measures that ensure safe working environments for stage technicians and helps create professional training opportunities for young people who want to enter the profession.

Clients often select both Nagata Acoustics and Mr. Kusaka for the same projects and we frequently collaborate with him to plan the interior spaces of new halls and theatres. Some examples of recent collaborations include the Dream Ship multipurpose complex in Shimonoseki (featured in our News & Opinions September,2009 issue) and Kanagawa Performing Arts Theatre "KAAT" in Yokohama (featured in our News & Opinions March, 2011 issue).

<<Past and Present Trends in Japanese Public Hall Venues >>

The history of public halls in Japan began in Tokyo, in 1929, with the opening of Hibiya Kokaido Public Hall as a venue intended for convocations of all kinds. In the following decades, Japan's public hall projects evolved in response to audiences' expectations that halls be designed for specific uses and performing arts genres, such as concert halls and theatre-style multipurpose halls. Since the 1990s, new public halls built in Japan increasingly focus on designs that promote direct involvement by the local communities in the artistic and creative production of events and performances. The new public halls emphasize spaces for local resident to practice, produce and perform a range of performing arts genres.

The trend that began in the 1990s shifted the purpose of public halls from places where audiences just passively watch, hear and appreciate performing arts and cultural events to places where people who live in the halls' communities actively plan, create, stage and perform their own self-directed concerts, plays and other events. The evolution from passive audience to involved participant benefits the regional cities and towns that build public halls. Today's public halls foster social interactions among local residents, which helps build a sense of community, and the attractive hall activities make the halls popular local leisure-time destinations that help keep discretionary spending within communities, thereby supporting the local tax base. These and other benefits of a new public hall can make a significant impact on a community.

<<The Importance of Setting Guiding Principles for Administering Public Halls >>

After discussing the increasing community involvement in public hall productions, Mr. Kusaka emphasized his belief in the importance of each public hall establishing basic principles that will define and guide the hall in pursuing a purpose (What are the hall's goals?). Without this direction and framework, the operational activities (What does the hall administration do and what events happen in the hall?) and administrative roles and responsibilities (Who is responsible?) will flounder.

To borrow an analogy used by Mr. Kusaka, administering a public hall without a clearly defined purpose is like trying to fly a kite that does not have a string attached to it. When I heard this analogy, I found myself nodding in agreement with this visualization of a public hall that lacks a purpose or goals.

<< Japan's Shitei Kanrisha Seido (Designated Manager System) >>

Towards the end of his talk, Mr. Kusaka addressed how the 2003 law that established Japan's Shitei Kanrisha Seido ("Designated Manager System" or "DMS") has affected the operations and success of public halls and what the DMS means for the course of Japanese public halls in the future. This system aims to efficiently address the diverse needs of public sporting event, cultural and performing arts facilities and provides the benefit of bringing private sector know-how to the management of public halls.

However, the DMS requires designated manager contracts to have specified term limits. Unfortunately, by limiting the contract length, the system causes DMS companies to use quick-turnaround staffing approaches that negatively impact the development of hall management professionals and inhibits the establishment of long-term goals. Some designated manager companies focus solely on cost cutting measures and others will only work short-term contracts. The limit on DMS contract lengths also decreases the motivation of designated manager company employees and prevents their developing a sense of belonging (that is, of being part of the hall's management team).

<<Summary >>

In the coming years, Japan's public halls will need to resolve many issues. They include establishing and confirming the purpose of public halls within their communities and related decisions about designing specialized spaces, creating the ability of public halls to operate independently (both economically and in terms of direction) and determining how to set appropriate goals and evaluate progress and success.

At nominal output power, the power amplifier produces sine wave signals characterized by not more than a 3dB variation in the difference between the SPL's RMS and peak values, as shown in the graph. In the hall where I had the exceptional listening experience, the room has a small scale of less than 600 seats and the sound system installation uses high-efficiency loudspeakers. Accordingly, we estimated an average of 80W for the required power of the speakers positioned to cover the rear audience seating. In this setting, a power amplifier rated as having 80W output power suffices to produce sine waves, but for speech and music reproduction, a power amplifier with output power of 400W to 1,280W must be used, because these sound sources exhibit SPL peak values 10dB to 15dB greater than their average values.

When I listened to Mr Kusaka's presentation, I thought about the important role he and other theatre consultants play in helping public halls redefine themselves for the future.

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

(LA Office)
2130 Sawtelle Blvd., Suite 308
Los Angeles, CA 90025, U.S.A.
Tel: +1-310-231-7878, Fax: +1-310-231-7816

(Paris Office)
75, avenue Parmentier
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 ]