Kanagawa Kenmin Hall
Main Hall (Renewed)
Theater / Hall｜Dec. 18, 2018
The Kanagawa Kenmin Hall opened in 1975 as the preeminent space in Japan for large-scale cultural events. It features two halls, the Main Hall], which can hold around 2,500 people, and the Small Hall, which was the first public hall in Japan to have a pipe organ.
Main Hall Renovations to Make the Space Barrier Free
In July of 2017, 40 years after it first opened Kanagawa Kenmin Hall underwent large scale renovations to improve the entire facility. Following this construction, the new hall opened in June of 2018.
The carpeting of the aisles lists the row number every five rows, to make it easier for customers to find their seats.
It had also been difficult to see the line between the floor and walls when the space was dark, so a white line was added where the two meet. This eliminated the worry of bumping into the wall when moving along the edge of the seats.
Hand-Holds to Assist Climbing the Stairs of the 2nd and 3rd Floors
The Main Hall has three levels of seating, and while it is set up so that the furthest row of seats in each section is still close to the stage, this does mean that the highest section has a steep pitch, which makes going up or down the stairs a bit dangerous.
In this renovation, hand-holds were added to the seats next to the aisle to help with this problem. These hand-holds are set up so that people will reach out to them naturally, and the stick-shape of the holds is rounded and comfortable to use, assisting those who are climbing the steep stairs.
There are several benefits to these hand-holds. First, they are attached to the seats, meaning that unlike a railing, they don’t take space away from the aisle. Second, having something to hold on to eases the fears of those on the stairs, and allows for the smooth movement of traffic, easing crowding on the stairs. The color of the holds is matched to the existing seats, allowing them to blend in naturally. They are also easy to install, making implementation easy for the theatre.
The implementation of this type of hand-holds is spreading as more of Japan’s theatres are moving to become barrier-free spaces.