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Thursday, September 3, 2015

Symphony in Concrete - Konan Ward Cultural Centre, Japan

By Leah Linhares
Photography: Courtesy the architects

Konan Ward Cultural Centre by Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design
©Taisuke Ogawa

Stroll into the multipurpose complex at Konan ward in Niigata city for a first-hand experience of the futuristic societal spot designed by renowned Japanese practice Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design

Comprising a theatre, library, local museum and a community centre, and developed through workshops, this versatile cultural centre in Niigata Prefecture, Japan is designed on the principle of ‘for the people, by the people’.

Konan Ward Cultural Centre by Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design
©Kouichi Satake

A walk inside the centre engulfs you with a feeling of being in space! The walls of the corridor –‘Cross Street’, connecting the four programs, twinkles with lights all around as the concrete structure envelope appears luminous with its punctures acting as a breathing skin for the building.  

Konan Ward Cultural Centre by Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design
©Taisuke Ogawa
Konan Ward Cultural Centre by Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design
©Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design

Concrete planes overlap creating distinct spaces for the programs, nesting into each other and the Cross Street. Certain rooms like the music practice room are vertically nested allowing daylight to naturally fill up the gap between its ceiling and the building roof.

Konan Ward Cultural Centre by Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design
©Shinkenchiku-sha Co. Ltd.
Konan Ward Cultural Centre by Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design
©Taisuke Ogawa

Making the space less austere and more user friendly, are movable sliding walls that enable the merging or separation of spaces, maximizing the limited space as desired.

Konan Ward Cultural Centre by Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design
©Taisuke Ogawa

Another captivating aspect of this centre is the 413 seat multifunction Hall; designed with numerous softly curving bands of lights, it creates a strong visual impression, defining the curves of the walls and ceiling. This engaging hall has side walls punctuated with 7000 circles enabling sound absorption, sound diffusion and lighting. Its stage – another of its highlight - is styled with a movable acoustic reflector system that enables the reflectors to a position that adds about 3 m. to the depth of the stage, giving this small scale hall sufficient area to host large orchestras!

Konan Ward Cultural Centre by Chiaki Arai Urban and Architecture Design
©Taisuke Ogawa

From amongst their community-based architectural work, Chiaki Arai Urban & Architecture Design has brought together a characteristic blend of entertainment and society through the Konan Ward Cultural Centre.

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