Nara Centennial Hall
Theater / Hall｜Sep. 10, 2018
Nara prefecture flourished as the capital of ancient Japan. With a history even older than that of Kyoto, there are still numerous world heritage sights lining the streets of the town today. Many visitors come to Nara, both from within Japan and from abroad, to enjoy the historical buildings and atmospheric scenery.
In February of 1999, the Nara Centennial Hall was built to celebrate the passing of 100 years from the incorporation of the city, and to “watch over the next 100 years.” The building was constructed with the Pantadome system, a patented system proposed by Mamoru Kawaguchi, an architect and structural designer. At the time of construction, 5 buildings in Japan and abroad had been built in this style, but it was the first time that both the concrete reinforcement plates on the outer walls and the roof were constructed at the same time anywhere in the world.
The Main Hall, with adjustable audience seating
The Main Hall of the building can hold more people than any other venue in the prefecture. In a typical hall, audience members exit through doors to access the stairs between levels of seating, but in this hall, the stairs are in the same space. This rare layout means that the audience can access upper seating levels without leaving the main area. Above these stairs, the upper level is open, and the lighting creates atmospheric patterns of light and darkness. Continuing on to the next level, the seating has been broken into separate blocks, which seem to float in the air.
In the audience seating blocks, there are rails in the floor which allow movement of the seats along the rail to adjust seating for different events. The seats towards the front of the first floor can also move. There are elevated walkways to the stage on either side, which can be used as part of a performance, or for wheelchair seating. This is a hall which can be adjusted in an impressive variety of ways.
Beautiful seating with impeccable functionality
While vents for temperature control systems are often installed in the floor, in this space they’ve been placed within the seats. The airflow from the top of the seats is low velocity, and the angle has been adjusted to avoid pointing at audience members. The system also avoids directing cold air at the nape of the neck, an area sensitive to cold.
By adjusting temperature directly in the areas of the large hall occupied by people, it’s possible to use a small amount of energy to maintain an appropriate temperature in the space. Air enters the space quietly, avoiding disturbing noises during performances. This system also prevents over-cooling the feet of audience members as they watch.
We created a seat which has these functions, but which is also beautiful to look at. We used 2 layers of board to create the back of the seat, which has a slim line, and curves that fit to the lines of a person’s back. Instead of leaving the heating and cooling vent bare, we gave it an elegant design as well. The seat of the chair features a cushion which has been shaped to the S-curve of the spine. Even when sitting for long periods of time, this design ensures that the pressure of the body is evenly distributed, reducing the chance of experiencing pain.
- Nara City,Nara
- Nara City
- Arata Isozaki & Associates
- Feb, 1999