Quietness, Comfortable Sound and Excellent Acoustics NAGATA ACOUSTICS

News 12-11 (No.299)

Issued : November 25, 2012

[ Japanese Version ]

Niigata City Konan Ward Cultural Center Opens

By Ayako Hakozaki

the Cultural Center exterior
the Cultural Center Exterior

Hall interior
Hall interior
Hall Interior

On October 6, 2012, a new cultural center opened for the people of Konan Ward in Niigata City. The place name "Konan Ward" means little to most readers, whether you are reading the Japanese version of this article or the English, because it is a new appellation for 13 hamlets and small towns annexed to Niigata City in 2005. In 2007, Niigata City came under Japanese "seirei-shitei-toshi" regulations for cities with populations greater than 500,000 people. To comply with the regulations, Niigata divided itself in administrative wards and one of these wards is Konan Ward.

Before becoming part of Niigata City, some of the area now designated as Konan Ward was called Kameda-cho. Many readers are surely familiar with the Japanese senbei-and-peanuts snack named "Kaki-pi". Kaki-pi is made by Kameda Seika confection company, which has its company offices and senbei baking facilities in Kameda (now, Konan Ward).

<< Overview of the New Cultural Center >>

Konan Ward Cultural Center is located in a corner of Kameda Sports Park and about a 10 minute drive by car from Kameda Train Station. The center has four main facilities, including a hall for music and theatre performances, a civic center "zone", a library and a local culture repository for storing and sharing information and artifacts about local crafts and products. The civic center has two Music Practice Rooms, Activity Rooms as well as several other rooms for lectures and other cultural activities.

Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design served as the project architect. The three general contractors Fujita Corporation, Akiha Kensetsukogyo Co., Ltd and Kitamoto Kensetsu Co., Ltd formed a special joint venture for the project's construction.

<< Interior Features of the Music & Play Hall >>

The Music & Play Hall is a 400-seat multipurpose hall. Inside the hall, multiple, softly curving bands of light make a strong visual impression and delineate the curves of the stepped side walls and the ceiling. The side walls are constructed using three layers of fiberglass reinforced gypsum board. The side walls are punctuated at random intervals with circles that have one of three properties. Each circle adds light, promotes sound diffusion or adds sound absorption. The circles implement both interior design and acoustical objectives.

circles on the rear walls
Circles on the Rear Walls

Each circle is made of a metal material 66 mm deep and either 45 mm, 75 mm or 100 mm in diameter. The lighted circles have an acrylic panel facing towards the hall interior and LEDs affixed behind the acrylic panels. The circles designed to promote sound diffusion and acoustical reflections have acrylic panels but no LEDs. The sound absorbing circles have perforated metal on the side that faces towards the hall interior and glass wool behind the perforated metal.

On each side of the hall the embedded circles begin where the stage reflection panel system ends and the number of circles increases and covers a larger portion of the side walls as the random pattern continues toward the rear of the hall. We embedded sound reflecting circles near the sound reflection panel system and the side walls, placed most of the sound absorbing circles at the rear of the auditorium and distributed the lighted circles in the side walls throughout the hall. The hall has a total of 6,000 circles and each metal ring needed to be individually installed in a way that would prevent it from vibrating or emitting some kind of noise. The work was accomplished only with extreme patience, perseverance and diligence.

upholstered hall seat
Upholstered Hall Seat

<< The Hall's Upholstered Seats and Sound Absorption in the Hall >>

The hall has upholstered seating providing a slightly strong sound absorbing character to this specification. During construction, we measured the actual sound absorption characteristic of the chair and, based on the results, adjusted the extent of the sound absorbing material used at the rear of the hall.

The color palette for the seats' upholstery includes a yellow-green background with shades of brown and orange woven into the fabric. When the civic center's construction was completing in August of last year, the farmland on the outskirts of Niigata City was approaching harvest time and the tops of the rice growing in the field showed hues of yellow-greed mixed with light gold. I remember thinking that the colors of the new hall echo the natural vistas of Niigata City at this time of year.

<< Alternate Configuration for Concert Performances >>

Another feature of the Music & Play Hall is the configurable depth of the stage rear wall. We designed the stage sound reflection panel system so that the stage's rear wall is part of the stage sound reflection panel system and we devised a mechanism of supports attached to the rear concrete walls of the stage to support the movable rear wall of the stage.

The arms of the mechanism can push the stage's rear wall to a position that adds about 3 m. to the depth of the stage. (The standard configuration is 8 m. and the alternate configuration is 11 m.) The alternate configuration gives this otherwise small-scale hall sufficient stage area to host large orchestras.

Music Practice Room 1
Music Practice Room 1

Music Practice Room 2
Music Practice Room 2

<< Music Practice Rooms Accommodate Very Loud Sound >>

For the civic center's two music practice rooms, we specified anti-vibration and sound isolation structural designs so that the rooms can be used for practice on electric instruments that generate very loud sound. Music Practice Room 1 has an asymmetrical polygon shape and the ceiling design is a three-dimensional arrangement of triangular wedge shapes. Music Practice Room 1 connects to a control Room for use as a studio.

Music Practice Room 2 has a rectangular shape. The center's programming plan anticipates that this room will also be used for study.

In both music practice rooms, aluminum fiber panels were installed on the walls for sound absorption. An overlay pattern of wood ribs adds an interesting interior design element. Additionally, behind some of the aluminum fiber panels we added glass wool to further adjust the liveliness of the acoustics. In Music Practice Room 2, where we have both parallel walls and ribs placed at regular intervals, we proactively prevented the possibility undesirable acoustical phenomena by varying the thickness of the ribs.

<< Opening Performances and Events >>

During the month of October the civic center hosted a variety of well-attended performances and events to celebrate its opening. Five of NHK Symphony Orchestra's most acclaimed players performed a string quintet concert and local residents performed a Kabuki play entitled "Kameda Village's Legend of the Dragon King" ("Kameda-go Ryujinden").

The new cultural center's hall provides full-bodied sound and when configured for theater performances, the hall delivers clear, amplified speech to every audience seat. The hall's name aptly describes the hall's personality. It is a venue for enjoying both music and theatre. The space offers a truly intimate setting not possible in a large concert hall, and the stage feels close from every audience seat. The civic center and the hall were built for everyday use by the residents of Konan Ward, but attending a concert or play at the new Konan Ward Cultural Center Hall feels a bit like a luxury meant for V.I.Ps.

The new Cultural center's home page URL is http://www.city.niigata.lg.jp/konan/torikumi/bunkakaikan/index.html.

Construction Begins on New Multipurpose Hall at Chapman University in Orange, CA

By Motoo Komoda

An artist's rendering of the center, designed by Pfeiffer Partners Architects.
An artist's rendering of the center,
designed by Pfeiffer Partners Architects.

Chapman University is a well-respected private university in the Southern California community of Orange. The school's history dates back to the establishment of a college established in 1861 by members of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). Currently, the university has an enrollment of 7,000 students. The university offers an extensive arts curriculum that includes majors in a number of film, acting, TV and related disciplines. The school excels at preparing students to pursue professional careers in Hollywood's entertainment industry.

The university campus is located in scenic Orange County, about one hour's drive by car from downtown Los Angeles. In this naturally sunny part of the U.S. west coast, the university has built a campus of white, beige and brick buildings on a beautiful site. When I walk on the Chapman University campus, I almost feel like I've entered a Hollywood set where a movie will soon unfold before my eyes.

The real reason I've been spending time on this delightful campus is in connection with the multipurpose hall commissioned here by the university. The new building that will house the hall is part of the school's recent focus on additional investment in its performing arts disciplines.

At the project's recent groundbreaking ceremony, the university announced that the new building will be named the Marybelle and Sebastian Paul Musco Center for the Arts. When complete, the building will have 7,700m2 (83,000 sq. ft) of floor space. In addition to the 1,050-seat multipurpose hall, plans for the building include music practice rooms, a green room, a recording studio, facilities for movie editing and other spaces for movie and performing arts production.

An artist's rendering of the center's interior.
An artist's rendering of the center's interior.

<< A New Hall for Classical Music, Theater, Dance and Opera >>

While our basic design for the new hall is a multipurpose hall, the hall's programming envisions frequent use for classical music concerts and, therefore, our design provides for a high level of acoustical performance to meet this need. Because the hall will also be used for theater, dance and opera, the interior configuration has the proscenium stage opening, fly tower and orchestra pit of a theater-style venue.

To adapt the hall's theater-style configuration for classical music concerts, we added a number of specific acoustical design features. In particular, we carefully designed the weight and shape of the hall's sound reflection panel system (e.g., the orchestra shell). In addition, we implemented a mechanism that raises the orchestra pit floor to the same height as the stage floor so that the stage area becomes large enough for a full orchestra.

Pfeiffer Partners Architects is the project architect. Nagata Acoustics serves as the acoustical consultant primarily for the room acoustical design of the multipurpose hall and the sound isolation and noise mitigation designs.

<< Groundbreaking Ceremony and the Project's Planned Completion >>

Trustee Paul Musco and opera star Placido Domingo share a lighthearted moment during the groundbreaking.
Trustee Paul Musco and opera star Plácido Domingo
share a lighthearted moment during the groundbreaking.

On September 6, 2012, some 300 people attended the project's groundbreaking ceremony. The event's special guest was the great opera virtuoso and current Los Angeles Opera General Director Plácido Domingo. Mr. Domingo participated with Mr. Musco in the ritual of putting hand-held shovels into the earth to mark the start of construction.

The cost of the project is expected to be $64 million. The construction schedule plans for completion of the building during the first half of 2015 and a target opening of the hall in the second half of the same year.

<< Performing Arts Venues in Orange County >>

Currently, Orange County has two performing arts facilities. One is Segerstrom Center for the Arts, which is about a 15-minute drive from Chapman University. The other venue is Soka University Concert Hall on the Soka University campus (featured in Nagata Acoustics' November, 2011 newsletter).

With the addition of the Marybelle and Sebastian P. Musco Center for the Arts, this part of Southern California will surely become a very attractive destination for music lovers. The university's blog about the new hall can be found at http://blogs.chapman.edu/happenings/2012/09/07/center-for-the-arts-groundbreaking/

2012 Autumn Meeting, Acoustical Society of Japan

By Kosuke Suzuki

On September 19, 20 and 21, 2012, the Acoustical Society of Japan held its twice yearly meeting. This time, the session was held at the Shinshu University's Faculty of Engineering campus in Nagano Prefecture, Japan. The whole city welcomed us to the meeting with a beautiful sign emblazoned with "Welcome To Nagano!" above the entrance to JR Nagano Station and I saw matching bumper stickers on the city's taxis. I enjoyed the V.I.P. welcome, which is not the norm when the society convenes at its spring venue in a major Kanto city.

<< Technical Trends Review on Parametric Array Loudspeakers >>

At the immediately previous 2012 Spring Meeting, the Acoustical Society of Japan introduced a new Technical Trends Review session for society members. This session takes place the day before the meeting's official presentations begin. For the Technical Trends Review in 2012 Autumn Meeting, the organizers chose the topic "Fundamentals and Practical Applications of Parametric Array Loudspeakers".

During the first half of this session, University of Electro-Communications Director, Prof. Tomoo Kamakura spoke about the science and current challenges and issues related to parametric array speakers. For the session's second half, Mr. Shinichi Sakai of Mitsubishi Electric Engineering Company spoke about commercial applications for this technology and shared examples of actual customer implementations.

Parametric array loudspeaker systems use ultrasonic waves and the nonlinear nature of aerial vibrations to give sharp directivity to amplified sound, making it possible to limit the sound's transmission to a specific narrow range. Currently, the systems are used to play guidance messages in cultural and tourist facilities, give out warnings in station platforms, provide commentary only to the galleries in a sport tournament, and so on. According to the presenters, other applications for this technology are being researched and there are high hopes that other uses for parametric array speaker systems will be developed.

In my work, I typically consider the behavior of sound waves as linear and that the frequency is in the audible range. Therefore, I found the session exceedingly novel and interesting. I would have found the session even more comprehensive if it had included the opportunity to listen to a parametric array loudspeaker system. I look forward to attending future Technical Trends Review sessions on exciting new topics.

<< Poster Session on the Architectural Acoustics >>

The well-attended architectural acoustics poster session was held on the morning of the meeting's second day and featured posters of nine acoustical design projects, including our two presentations. Our presentations were on the acoustical designs of Shibuya City's Owada Cultural Center (featured in our December, 2010 newsletter) and KAAT-Kanagawa Arts Theatre, (featured in our March, 2011 newsletter).

A presentation by Kajima Corporation Kajima Technical Research Institute attracted my personal interest. This presentation showed that the center time ("Schwerpunktzeit") reflected auditory impressions better than the reverberation time for the sound fields of a continuous space, containing atriums and a corridor. The center time index was initially invented to calculate speech clarity using only an impulse response, but there has been a dearth of reports in recent years. What is interesting is that, in a totally diffuse sound field, the center time index would have a perfect correlation with the sound reverberation time of a space. It fascinates me to imagine designing a concert hall using the center time index and to consider how this would change the way I think about the acoustics of a space.

<< Prof. Oxenham's Talk on Auditory Perception >>

On the third and last day of the meeting, I listened to a talk by Minnesota University Prof. Andrew J. Oxenham. Prof. Oxenham spoke on the topic: "A Right Time and Place for Pitch Perception?" His research group is the author of a famous paper on auditory perception, employing "auditory chimeras". The paper was accepted and published in Nature, a research journal that presents groundbreaking work across all scientific disciplines. The lecture presented the current beliefs on the temporal and the place theory with some simple demonstrations such as the missing fundamental and auditory chimeras, which gave the audience the opportunity to confirm with their eyes and ears the specific sounds being discussed and how the ear processes these sounds.

One small advance in understanding the mechanism of human hearing can make a critical difference in advancing the development of cochlear implants and hearing aid devices. Such an advance can also aid our understanding of the relationship between physical phenomena and human senses. To pursue Nagata Acoustics' vision of bringing the experience of "quietness, comfortable sound and excellent acoustics" to vast audiences, we need to incorporate the scientific discoveries elucidated in physiological and psychological acoustics. The four days of presentations and lectures in 2012 Autumn Meeting inspired me to understand that I should actively extend the focus of my professional interests beyond developments in architectural acoustics to include other areas of acoustical research. I look forward to broadening my knowledge and horizons at other similar events.

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 ]