The world’s first inflatable concert hall, dubbed the Ark Nova by its creators British sculptor Anish Kapoor and Japanese architect Arata Isozaki, will be making its debut in the coastal town of Matsushima inMiyagi Prefecture, which was badly hit by the tsunami in 2011. The abstract structure will be the site of the Lucerne Festival that will open this weekend.
The structure was made in collaboration with the organizers of the festival and consists of a single skin membrane that is easily inflatable or deflatable, making it a mobile concert venue that can be transported around the country. The acoustic reflectors and seats inside the hall were made from the famous cedar trees of Matsushima, taken from the Zuiganji Temple. For the inaugural weekend, events include a concert by the Sendai Philharmonic, traditional kabuki performances and musical workshops for children. Later on, the concert hall will host performances from classical musicians and orchestras, as well as from modern artists like Ryuichi Sakamoto.
Michael Haefliger, the artistic and executive director of the festival, conceptualized the idea of an inflatable concert venue because the 2011 disasters left its mark on him and he wanted the Lucerne Festival to contribute to the relief efforts. He hopes the Lucerne Festival Ark Nova Project will give hope to the survivors of the tsunami with its “symbiosis of architecture, design, folkloristic and classical music as well as music education.”