News 19-02 (No.374)
Issued : February 25, 2019
Akune Civic Center “Kaze Terrace Akune” Opens
By Fumiaki Sakamaki
Akune City is located in northwest Kagoshima Prefecture, on Japan’s southern Kyushu Island. The city’s borders extend 40 km (25 miles) from north to south along the East China Sea, with the city nestled between the sea and mountains that rise near the coast. The city’s favorable location has made it a hub of sea and land transport and commerce industries since ancient times. For the past 50 years the city’s cultural life revolved around its municipal civic hall. Now, the new “Kaze Terrace Akune” civic center has been built to replace the old civic hall.
<< Incorporating Local Residents’ Ideas into Civic Hall Design >>
The new Kaze Terrace Akune facility features a 541-seat hall, a lobby located behind the rear wall of the hall’s stage and, on the far side of the lobby, five activity rooms (referred to as “citizen interaction rooms”) plus office space for the facility’s administrators and operations personnel. This configuration of spaces reflects the input of local residents received by the project team during the center’s design phase. During this phase, more than 10 workshop sessions were held with local residents to brainstorm and discuss how the hall and the building’s other spaces would be used. Local residents proposed and commented on each other’s ideas and everyone aimed for a design that prioritizes the local citizenry’s ease of use.
The ability to convert the hall’s dressing room into a conference room offers one example of how the center’s design incorporates ideas the local community expressed during the workshops. By opening large doors installed between the lobby and the hall’s dressing room space, the facility gained another conference room when the space is not being used as a dressing room for the hall.
This timing of this project’s design phase unfortunately coincided with general increases in construction costs and the costs of materials in Japan. As a result, the project’s stakeholders became faced with the unenviable task of reducing the project’s cost by conducting a major design review. Having successfully overcome this hurdle, the opening of the new center marks the long-awaited achievement of the community’s goal to have a new hall designed with the local population’s needs in mind.
Plan (Upper:1F, Downer:2F)
<< Project Participants >>
Waseda University Professor Nobuaki Furuya and the architectural design firm Studio NASCA created the new facility’s architectural design. A joint venture of Akune Construction Co., Ltd, Taisei Co., Ltd and Maeda Co., Ltd. were responsible for the building’s construction.
Nagata Acoustics participated on the project in the role of acoustical consultant, providing the full range of acoustical consulting services. We began our participation during the design phase, continued our work through the construction phase and performed acoustical measurements of the new facility when it was completed.
<< The Kaze Terrace Akune Hall >>
The Hall Configured for Concert Use
(without Stage Curtain)
The Hall Configured for Lecture or Theater Use
(with Stage Curtain)
The Hall’s Audience Seating
Doors Open from the Lobby to the Hall
Stage Use of Movable Partition at Stage Right
Convex Portion of Hall’s Rear Concrete Wall
Rear Wall of the Hall
(Overlapping, perforated panels follow the curve of the rear wall.)
Hall Personnel Removing from the Stage
the “Take-Down Friendly” Stage Curtain
The highlight of the new facility is its uniquely asymmetrical hall. The doors to the hall are offset to one side of the hall and a hanamichi (the raised walkway found in theatres for traditional Japanese genres like Kabuki) provides access at stage right to the main audience seating. The unique spatial design of this hall’s access to the audience seating means that stepping inside the doors of the hall creates a strong impression that overrides any assumptions or expectations people may have had about the hall before they entered the space.
The hall’s interior ceiling and walls have exposed concrete structural surfaces without wood paneling or any of the other kinds of added finishes that are typically seen in this kind of hall. The height of the concrete ceiling measures 13 m. (43 ft) above the stage floor and slopes upward from this height towards the rear of the audience seating area. From the apex of the ceiling at the rear of the hall, the wall that descends to form the rear of the hall has a clerestory window that brings light into the hall.
At stage left in the auditorium, a gently rising stairway runs along the side wall connecting the main floor and balcony seating. Alongside several of the steps of this stairway we installed rows that each have a few audience seats. These seats have been dubbed momi-age (“sideburn”) seats because of the way they frame this side of the hall. This seating configuration results in the audience seating being asymmetrical, but has the advantage of making it easy for individuals to move between the main audience seating and the balcony. We implemented this design because of the community’s interest in events that will include an element of audience participation.
The hanamichi at stage right can be used in many ways. Movable chairs can be set up on the hanamichi to increase the audience seating or seats can be added for use by performers. Curtains, or movable partitions can also be set up to hide the hanamichi area from the audience’s view or to create a space that is separate from the audience seating. Depending on the event or production, this element of the hall presents many possible uses.
In addition to these unique elements of the hall, by opening the large door at the rear of the stage it becomes possible to access the stage directly from the lobby. One example of how this layout and architectural design can be used would be for a theatre director to create a stage scene in which performers appear on stage directly from the back of the stage.
The Kaze Terrace Akune Hall is a multipurpose hall but we did not equip it with a system of sound reflection panels. The grid suspended above the stage has been left exposed to view and the overhead battens, lighting and the sound system’s loudspeakers can be placed, moved and adjusted on this grid. The hall’s configuration for concert performances is to use the hall without its proscenium curtain. When configured as a concert hall, the space can be used for piano, choral and other non-amplified music concerts.
For lectures, other speaking events and theatre productions, the hall will be used with its proscenium curtain deployed. When the stage’s proscenium curtain is set up, the curtain’s attachment mechanism looks much the same as any proscenium curtain in any other hall. Also like the deployable curtain in any hall, some level of manual effort and work is needed to set up or take down the curtain. However, for this hall we found ways to make the curtain more “take-down friendly” than in typical implementations. The changes we implemented include using innovative metal connecting hooks that can be easily disengaged and providing a box with casters for storing the curtains. The box for storing the curtains can be rolled onto the stage so that the curtains can be placed directly in the storage box and then rolled to its storage location. By implementing these improvements we made it possible for the hall’s workers to change the hall’s configuration from concert style to proscenium style in the shortest time possible.
<< Acoustic Design of the Hall >>
To achieve the desired acoustics in the hall for non-amplified music concerts, we began our acoustic design work with the premise that the hall’s proscenium curtain will always be taken down for the music concert configuration. As a result, the high, smooth concrete ceiling above the audience seating slopes to connect the stage seamlessly to the audience both visually and acoustically. When we designed the shape of the hall, we determined that we could use the concrete ceiling surface, the side walls and the movable partitions of the hanamichi to effectively sound reflections towards the center of the audience seating area of the hall. In addition, by using the upper portions of the balcony seating area and the undersides of the technical gallery as acoustical eaves we increased the secondary sound reflections to both the stage and the audience seating areas.
We intentionally designed the concrete rear wall of the hall to be a sound-reflecting surface. Because of this design, we needed to prevent an undesirable long-path echo phenomenon from occurring. We achieved this prevention through the use of a protruding, convex shape for a portion of the hall’s concrete rear wall and by tilting the wall towards the audience seating.
Because of the tall height of the ceiling and the abundance of concrete surfaces in the hall, our design also gave attention to ensuring that the hall would not have too much reverberation. To address this concern, we implemented a wall system on the wall behind the balcony seating that has overlapping panels combined with use of a perforated material. Also, to increase the sound absorption properties of this wall, we specified that the narrow side surfaces of the overlapping panels (the parts that have a darker color in the accompanying photo) be sound absorbing surfaces. In addition, we added a spray-on, sound absorbing material to the lower portion of the rear wall’s convex surface and affixed a generous amount of glass wool inside the ceiling spotlight room. Through these measures we controlled the liveliness of the hall’s reverberation time and prevented excessive reverberation.
When configured in concert configuration without the stage curtain, the hall’s reverberation time measures 2.1 seconds with the hall empty and 1.7 seconds when the audience seating is fully occupied. When the stage curtain is deployed, which is the expected configuration for lectures and other speaking events, the reverberation times are 1.5 seconds and 1.3 seconds, under the same respective conditions. (500 Hz)
<< Introducing the Hall to the Community >>
In November, 2018, ahead of the January, 2019 opening of the hall, the community was invited to the hall to attend an orientation session entitled “A Creative Manual”, with the goal of both explaining the hall’s features and functionality and having volunteers get some practice taking down and setting up the stage curtain to change the hall configuration. The project’s design team explained the architectural design concept, how mechanisms to vary the setup of the stage and the hall work, and the thought process used to develop the hall’s room acoustic design.
After the design team’s presentation, some of the members of the design team and community volunteers together performed the well-known Japanese children’s song “Furusato” on the hall’s stage. The participants performed both with the stage curtain deployed and with the hall in concert configuration so that everyone would experience how the hall’s acoustics change depending on the configuration. By giving the community volunteers the opportunity to take down and set up the stage curtain, the event increased the community’s familiarity with options for configuring this atypical hall and gave the community a level of confidence that will support the hall’s being fully used going forward.
<< January Opening Ceremonies’ Talk with Concert and the Hall’s Future >>
Early in the new year, on Saturday, January 19, the hall held its opening ceremonies combined with a local-themed “Talk with Concert” event. The event featured composer Harumi Fuuki, the Japanese film composer who wrote the score for the Japanese TV series “Segodon”. Ms. Fuuki also wrote the score for the Japanese film “Our Departures” which is set in Akune City and partially filmed there. Akune City residents who performed as extras in the movie participated in the talk and, interspersed with conversations and reminiscences about their experiences, Ms. Fuuki performed her compositions from the TV series and the film on the piano.
The event was a luxurious time enriched by the stories of Akune City residents. When the concert ended, a very long queue of people formed at the entrance of the concert hall because everyone wanted Ms. Fuuki’s autograph.
The Akune City Hall represents a departure from typical halls of the past. To keep the hall’s unique character from becoming something negative, people who use the hall should be encouraged to take advantage of the hall’s unique aspects when they plan productions and events in the hall. The hall’s future depends on this. Thankfully, the people of Akune City understand the benefits and possibilities their hall offers and are actively pursuing programming that will use the hall in creative ways. I hope many people will come and visit the hall and enjoy the programming soon to happen there.
IMPACT Centre: a new concert hall in Edinburgh, Scotland
By Marc Quiquerez
Interior rendering of the main hall
(courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects/Hayes Davidson)
Interior rendering of the Studio
(courtesy of David Chipperfield Architects/Hayes Davidson)
As the capital city of Scotland, Edinburgh has a long history and undeniably rich cultural heritage. It has also long enjoyed a vibrant cultural life, exemplified by its annual Edinburgh Festival which has grown since 1947 to become the world’s largest performing arts festival. It is also the base of renowned Scottish Chamber Orchestra (SCO).
The new IMPACT Centre will address the city’s need for a purpose-built medium-sized music venue. Its goal is to provide a world-class experience for year-round performances as well as the annual festival, and to create a new hub for a varied range of performances and education outreach.
IMPACT Centre will be the first new dedicated performing arts venue built in Edinburgh in over a century. It will house a 1000-seat auditorium designed primarily for classical music, and the 200-seat flexible Studio with functions ranging from education, rehearsals, recordings and performances.
The building will be located at the eastern edge of Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site of New Town. It will occupy a prestigious site at the end of George Street, directly behind listed Dundas House on St Andrews Square.
Formed in 2016, The International Music and Performing Arts Charitable Trust (IMPACT) Scotland is responsible for the development, construction and future operation of the facility. The project is developed with the support of Royal Bank of Scotland and the Dunard Fund charitable trust. It will serve as the new home for the SCO and a venue for the annual Edinburgh International Festival.
Nagata Acoustics was appointed by IMPACT Scotland in August 2016, to advise on the overall project brief as well as the acoustical brief for the design competition, to participate in the selection of architect and design team, and to ultimately serve as acoustical consultant for the room acoustical design of the halls.
A competition to select a design architect and design team was held in early 2017. It initially received over 60 applications from all around the globe. Six teams were shortlisted to submit and present their vision for the project. London-based David Chipperfield Architects (DCA) was appointed in mid-2017, and the project soon moved in Preparation and Brief (RIBA Stage 1). Consultants on the design team include Theater Projects as theater consultants and planners, and Arup as acoustical consulting for the building.
After completing Developed Design phase (RIBA Stage 3) in late 2018, the team is now fully engaged in Technical Design (RIBA Stage 4). A 1:20 scale model of the concert hall was built in London and acoustic tests will be performed by Nagata Acoustics’ team throughout the next two months, in order to confirm the absence of detrimental acoustic phenomena such as echoes.
Project website: http://impactscotland.org.uk/
DCA website: https://davidchipperfield.com/project/edinburgh-music-venue-the-impact-centre
Nagata Acoustics Inc.
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