Asia Life

Ark Nova: World’s First Inflatable Concert Hall Debuts in Japan

An inflatable concert hall will soon house concerts in the Japanese town of Matsushima.

British sculptor Anish Kapoor and Japanese architect Arata Isozaki have designed a concert hall with a peculiar twist. Dubbed the Ark Nova by its creators, the concert space will make its debut in the coastal town of Matsushima in Japan’s Miyagi Prefecture, where it will host the Lucerne Festival this weekend, The Telegraph reports. Miyagi was heavily hit during the March 2011 quake and tsunami. The project aims to “use music to bring hope and promise to those who are suffering” by providing a space that can accommodate an audience of up to 700.

Kapoor and Isozaki conceived the hall, working alongside the festival’s organizers. In aerial photos it resembles a massive, amorphous doughnut – in an avant-garde sense – that can be inflated and deflated and whisked away. The unconventional structure is modeled at least partly on Kapoor’s Leviathan installation, described as a “giant 4-armed balloon.” In similar fashion, DJ Richie Hawtin (aka Plastikman) performed inside this “womb-like red balloon” in 2011 in Paris.

The design’s portability was pushed by the festival’s artistic and executive director, Michael Haefliger who wanted to find some way to assist in the relief efforts underway in the area following the 2011 disaster through the “symbiosis of architecture, design, folkloristic and classical music as well as music education.” Further adding to the local connection to the project, the seats and acoustic reflectors housed within its single skin membrane are crafted from Matsushima’s renowned cedar trees from the Zuiganji Temple.

The Lucerne Festival will feature a range of performances and events, including a performance by the Sendai Philharmonic, a glimpse of kabuki theatrics, and children’s music workshops. After further sonic regaling by classical musicians and orchestras, musical Renaissance man Ryuichi Sakamoto will take the festival goers on a sonic journey through sections of his own award-winning soundscape.

For more information or to check out the festival’s complete lineup, visit here.