News 15-09 (No.333)
Issued : September 25, 2015
Gifu Media Cosmos Opens
By Toshiko Fukuchi
Gifu Media Cosmos Exterior Viewed from Main Entrance
Construction that was underway in a central part of Gifu City recently completed and the new Gifu Media Cosmos held its opening ceremony on July 18, 2015. At noon, after the ceremonies had ended, the multipurpose building opened to the public. Long lines of Gifu City residents streamed through the entrance, eager to at last experience all that Gifu Media Cosmos has to offer.
<< Highlights of Opening Ceremonies and Project Team >>
The opening ceremonies included words of congratulation and best wishes from attending dignitaries and a welcoming speech by the mayor of Gifu City. Thereafter, a ceremony installed Professor Toshihide Masukawa, Nobel Prize winner in Physics and now Special Professor at Nagoya University, as Gifu Media Cosmos’ Honorary Director. The opening ceremonies also included performances by a local residents’ jazz band and Gifu Boys’ and Girls’ Choir.
Architects Toyo Ito & Associates designed Gifu Media Cosmos. Toda Corporation, Dai Nippon Construction, Ichikawa koumuten and Hinaya Kensetsu formed a special joint venture for the project’s general contractor role. Nagata Acoustics provided acoustical consulting services first and foremost for Minna-No-Hall (“Everyone’s Hall”) and also for the library’s reading room and other rooms in the building.
<< Overview of the Project >>
The project site is north of Gifu City’s municipal government office building on land vacated by Gifu University’s School of Medicine. In addition to the government office building, the neighborhood has a main police station, a courthouse and a civic hall.
This section of Gifu City has the name Tsukasa Town, so the city named its urban renewal master plan for the area “Tsukasa Town Dream Project”. The first phase of the master plan’s construction to reach completion is “Minna No Mori—Gifu Media Cosmos”.
The next phase of the master plan will build a new municipal government office building on the south portion of the land. When the next phase has completed, the current government office building will be torn down and replaced with a new civic hall.
<< Architectural Highlights >>
The Gifu Media Cosmos building has two stories. Both floors have almost square footprints of 80 m. × 90 m. (262 ft x295 ft) each. The building is topped with a roof that is shaped to visually echo Mt. Kinka. Kinka-zan (as it is called in Japanese) is a 329 m. (1,079 ft) high mountain located in the heart of the city and Gifu City’s symbol.
The building has a maximum height of 16 m. (53 ft) at its highest point. Most of the exterior has a glass façade.
Conceptually, Gifu Media Cosmos has three hubs: the Knowledge Hub represented by Gifu City Main Library; the Connections Hub represented by the Activities Center that is open to all city residents; and, the Culture Hub represented by the multipurpose hall, an exhibition gallery and ancillary spaces. The building has been advertised with a slogan that plays on the Japanese language’s penchant for onomatopoeia: “By yourself, “uh-huh, uh-huh”, with that special someone create so your heart will “throb, throb”, and everyone together make a “buzz, buzz” of activity”. From this slogan, some people have given the hubs the nicknames of “Uh-Huh Hub” for the Knowledge Hub, “Buzz Hub” for the Connections Hub and “Throb Hub” for the Culture Hub.
<< Ground Floor Layout >>
Adults and Children Enjoying Activities
at the Communications Hub
At the very center of the ground floor is a closed stacks book archive given the name “Hon No Kura“ (“Book Barn”). Both the Connections Hub and the Culture Hub are located near this archive.
The Connections Hub has large and small studios for quiet and meditative group study, dance, plastic arts workshops, etc., and the studios have related names such as “Thinking Studio”, “Dance Studio” and “Create Studio”. The Culture Hub has the multipurpose hall “Minna No Hall”, the “Minna No Gallery” exhibition space and Doki-Doki Terrace, a flat-floored, flexible space with movable walls that also serves as the entrance to the exhibition space.
For most of the rooms on the ground floor, their functionality dictated the use of standard, opaque walls between spaces, but the book archive and the studios have glass wall enclosures around them. The lobby also has several groupings of desks, chairs and low shelving in circular arrangements that will encourage a range of uses and prevent the indoor space from feeling constrained.
<< Second Floor Layout >>
The second Floor Library with Open Stacks
and Suspended Light Domes
An escalator takes visitors from the ground floor main entrance to the second floor where the library has a single large room with open book stacks. The open stacks hold 300,000 books and the room accommodates 900 seats.
As the escalator ascends to the library, the second floor ceiling of complex curves with a lattice surface of triangles and large suspended domes of light gradually comes into view. The ceiling’s latticework is arranged so that the curves rise towards the domes with 120 mm. (5 in.) x 20 mm. (1 in.)-thick pieces of hinoki (“Japanese cypress”). The hinoki material is bonded into pieces of 7 layers and then bonded again into pieces of a maximum of 21 layers. The number of layers decreases as the latticework rises towards the domes.
<< The Ceiling’s Suspended Domes of Light >>
The top of the ceiling’s domes have skylights with operable centers. A total of 11 domes with diameters varying from 8 to 14 m. (26 – 46 ft) hang from the curved lattice ceiling. Because of their distance from the floor, the domes look as if they are floating in air.
Inside of the dome
The domes are made of triaxially woven polyester partially bonded to a nonwoven fabric. When Nagata Acoustics first saw the dome design, the round shape caused us to be concerned about how to prevent the undesirable acoustical phenomena called focusing. We asked the architect to either use an implementation that would not stretch fabric tightly across the domes’ surfaces or to use acoustically transparent or sound-absorbing materials. However, as I will explain later in this article, the domes are essential to the air flow of the building and, therefore, the acoustical properties of the domes’ material took second priority to the air flow needs. After considering the options, the decision was made to make the domes’ using a permeable material. When we performed our acoustical evaluations after the completion of the building, we confirmed with our own ears that for all practical purposes we could not hear any focusing phenomena when standing or sitting underneath the domes.
When light comes into the domes through the skylights at their centers, the light reflects off the polyester material and also diffuses, bathing the entire room in soft light. Even the parts of the room that are at the building’s center and far from windows enjoy the feeling of the soft, natural light.
As I mentioned earlier, the skylights are part of the building’s heating and cooling system. Depending on whether the skylights are raised to their open position or lowered and closed, throughout all seasons the skylights work together with the radiant heating and cooling system installed in the floor. Depending on the temperature, the system creates the appropriate air flow.
The area under each dome has its own carpet and an assortment of various kinds of chairs and tables. Visitors to Gifu Media Cosmos can spend time under the domes reading or doing research using the library’s many books. People who spend time in this space will surely find that the ventilation system gives the space a natural environment where it is a delight to stay for long hours at a time.
The book stacks have been placed around the periphery of the areas with the domes so that when visitors to the library peruse the stacks they will enjoy encountering a dome as they enter or leave each row of the stacks. The book stacks only rise to a modest height while the ceiling is 6 m. (20 ft) high. With these dimensions and the reading room’s footprint of just a bit less than 100 sq. m. (1,076 sq. ft), the library reading room truly has a feeling of spaciousness throughout and most of the second floor is in view from almost any part of the room.
<< Sound Isolation and Noise Mitigation for the second Floor Library >>
A large number of the adults who come to the library do so to read, do research and study—and they expect to find a quiet environment where they can focus on these activities. On the other hand, another purpose of libraries is to be a place where children can have fun reading or listening to an adult reading a book aloud. That is, the building has a mix of spaces with different acoustical expectations, one a quiet space and one a space where the sounds of activities can be pleasantly heard.
For this situation, an acoustical strategy is essential to creating a solution that works well for both purposes. In the past, most libraries were considered quiet spaces and anything that would generate noise would be robustly isolated and contained so as to not leak into the library reading rooms. More recently, however, libraries have changed their approach and want to encourage people to casually come and spend time at their locations. To this end, some new libraries are being designed with architectures that allow people to use the space as a place to meet and socialize. In these implementations, sound-isolated rooms are also added so that people who wish to use the library in a quiet setting can do so.
In the case of an open plan reading room, building a large and separate, sound-isolated room would not have achieved the conceptual design goals of Gifu Media Cosmos. Instead, to mitigate and reduce both the amount of sound generated in the space and any sound transference within the space we maximized the use of sound absorbing surfaces wherever possible throughout the second floor reading room.
Our strategy began with the ceiling’s 7-layer lattice of triangles and our opinion that this surface would dampen the amount of sound reflections from the ceiling. In addition, above the latticework we installed boards with sound absorbing properties to ensure robust sound absorption.
When construction of the library space completed, we measured the sound levels in the room. Under the light domes, where we expect children to congregate and considerably high levels of sound to be generated, our measurements confirmed that we achieved the decreases at the rate of about 6 dB for each doubling of distance and that the ceiling generates only minimal sound reflections. People who want an even quieter environment while using the library will be able to use the small rooms.
We also considered how the ground floor’s expected sound volumes would affect the second floor reading room because the building’s programming anticipated lots of lively activity on the ground floor. To address our concern about ground floor sound transferring to the second floor through the escalator opening we added the sound absorbing element of spandrel walls made of perforated material to the tops of the walls around the escalator.
In and around each of the ground floor studios we also specified robust sound isolation designs, especially at locations where equipment penetrates through the walls. In the 2 months since the opening of the building, the studios have quickly become popular spaces for many diverse uses. The client reports that with the sound isolation implementations a good balance exists between the amount of sound generated simultaneously in adjacent studios and the penetration of sound between these spaces. The studios are being used simultaneously without complaint from adjacent studios or neighboring spaces.
<< Minna No Hall >>
Minna No Hall
Minna No Hall, located on the ground floor, is a 230-seat multipurpose hall. This space will primarily be used for lectures and other speaking events and can also be used for piano recitals with the deployment of a simple sound reflection panel system that we provided.
Because the second floor reading room above Minna No Hall has a concrete floor, we installed a structural floating floor system above the hall to prevent the sound of footsteps from transferring down to Minna No Hall. Also, the hall has a square shape and this shape required us to develop a flutter echo prevention strategy. The architect’s design vision for the hall did not allow us to add any elements to the hall’s wall or ceilings so we specified that the walls along the audience seating area be poured-in-place ribbed concrete. The result is that there are no problematic echoes in the hall.
As part of Gifu Media Cosmos’ opening events, Mayor Shigemitsu Hosoe, Prof. Masukawa and architect Mr. Toyo Ito participated together in a panel discussion titled the “Uh-Huh Forum Talk”, named after the Knowledge Hub’s “Uh-Huh” slogan.
The hall has already been the venue for a number of lectures, piano concerts and other events. It looks promising for it to have a full calendar well into the future.
<< Opening Day and a Brief Tour of Special Spots to Discover at Gifu Media Cosmos >>
On Gifu Media Cosmos’ opening day, men, women and children of all ages came to see what the new building has to offer. A large number of visitors wanted to see all of the spaces and a similarly large number of people immediately found books of interest and comfortable places to sit and immerse themselves in a good read.
The spaces under the domes provide wonderful environments for reading and there are spaces near the glass windows of the walls that—while somewhat set apart from the rest of the room—also seem to appeal to some readers as a good place for reading.
Kinka-Zan Terrace has a view of Mt. Kinka in the distance and people who spend time in the Hidamari Terrace can enjoy the view of the building’s Kaokao Plaza. At the west side of the building, Namiki Terrace overlooks the green trees and small brook of the outdoor, natural space called “Seseragi No Namiki” (The Brook and Rows of Trees). The 3 terraces have chairs for people to sit while in these areas. Weather permitting, these terraces offer outdoor areas for reading and relaxing.
In these attractive environments it’s so easy to find a spot that appeals to a person’s individual tastes. Visitors soon find a place that suits them well and return again and again to their favorite spots. I wish I had a public library like this one close to my home so I might come relax there when time allows!
The Japanese language home page URL of Gifu Media Cosmos is http://g-mediacosmos.jp/
75th Acoustics Symposium of Architectural Institute of JAPAN: The Acoustical Environments of Childcare Facilities
By Chiaki Ishiwata
In April, many Japanese likely read the news that Tokyo Metropolitan government made a change regarding its application of childcare facility noise level regulations in specific situations. The change exempts childcare facilities from aspects of the noise level regulations in those specific situations. The following text was added to the city’s Ordinance to Protect the Healthy and Safe Environment of Residents (usually referred to as Environmental Protection Ordinance):
“In childcare facilities and other places covered by the ordinance, when the children (in the period until they enter primary school at the age of six on the 1st of April) engaged in activities with childcare workers, the noise generated by the play and activities are exempted from the Environmental Protection Ordinance regulations.”
In Tokyo, the demand for childcare continues to far outpace the availability of facilities and openings for children, even with a considerable increase in new childcare facilities. The increasing numbers of these facilities is probably a factor in the likewise increasing attention to the problem of noise coming from these facilities. Of course, the exemption of childcare facilities from the noise regulation doesn’t mean that the noise problem has been resolved. When selecting a location for a childcare facility, it surely makes sense to take into consideration how sound generated by the children and workers will affect neighbors and—to the extent possible—proactively develop and implement appropriate acoustical strategies.
With the state of childcare facilities on the minds of many citizen, the Room Acoustics Subcommittee of the Architectural Institute of Japan (“AIJ”) held its 75th Acoustics Symposium on July 28. The subcommittee devoted the event to “Acoustical Environments for Childcare—The Acoustical Perspective on Guiding Principles for Quality and Environmental Improvement of Childcare Spaces”. The event took place at Kenchiku Kaikan, the building where AIJ has its offices.
As a member of this subcommittee, I participate in the subcommittee’s work to address and improve a variety of needs related to the acoustical environments of architectural spaces. Under the umbrella of the subcommittee, a Working Group pursues acoustical environment topics specifically related to children and the members of this Working Group organized prominently in the July symposium.
<< Background of the Symposium Topic >>
This time, instead of discussing the problem of noise from childcare facilities that leaks outside the facilities, the symposium focused on the indoor acoustical environment of childcare facilities. In March, 2008, the AIJ published the "Academic Standards and Design Guidelines for Sound Environment in School Buildings" (AIJES-S001-2008). The guidelines are for primary, middle and secondary school buildings. Nagata Acoustics had introduced the progress of the guidelines in the News of 2005. With the school buildings’ guidelines work completed in 2008, portions of these guidelines could be used as a reference for childcare facilities. However, children in childcare facilities are younger than those in school and also, schools are intended to be places of academic education while childcare facilities have a mostly different set of purposes. With the use of childcare facilities becoming prevalent and number of such facilities increasing, the Room Acoustics Subcommittee had already begun discussions about the need to expand the guidelines with information specific to childcare facilities. When we planned the July symposium, we thought about the increasing number of childcare facilities and decided to discuss how the acoustical aspects of architectural design can make a positive contribution to childcare spaces. Among the symposium participants we included representatives of a national childcare facility organization and of a childcare facility so that we would have an exchange of views between our members and people who work directly in the childcare industry.
<< Symposium Agenda and Attendance >>
Panel Discussion at the 75th Acoustics Symposium
The symposium began with an overview of the event’s purpose, followed by talks from the professors participating in the symposium. Two professors doing research on childcare facilities spoke, followed by a third professor who spoke about the acoustical environment aspects of architectural design as they related to the topic. Thereafter, a general contractor and another professor introduced some practical acoustical environment improvements that have been made on specific childcare facility projects. For the last part of the program, the childcare facility organization and childcare facility representatives participated in a question-and-answer format discussion.
Japan’s Association for Children’s Environment and the Japanese Association for an Inclusive Society supported the symposium and the event was attended by many people who would not ordinarily attend the subcommittee’s symposiums. Unlike some symposiums that have the goal of arriving at decisions or conclusions about a topic, this symposium aimed to raise and uncover questions and issues as well as to brainstorm about known issues and share available information.
<< Summary of Comments from the Symposium >>
Below are some of the salient comments from the symposium:
• People who work in the childcare industry can provide childcare in any environment and providing a high level of childcare in any environment demonstrates the capabilities of the childcare provider. Therefore, it’s difficult to makes claims about the need for environmental improvements in specific childcare facilities.
• Sorry to say there’s an adult-centric opinion that Children are noisy so it’s okay for them to be in a noisy environment.
• When a child wants to tell something to a childcare worker, if the environment is noisy, the child will naturally raise his or her voice to try and “win” the attention of the worker. Also, if a worker doesn’t hear the child the first time the child says something, a child typically repeat the words multiple times. If the worker eventually hears what the child wants to say, the situation resolves but if a child repeatedly tries to tell the childcare worker something and repeatedly cannot be heard, the child may decide there is no use in communicating and stop talking entirely. If a child entirely stops communicating, this becomes a serious problem.
• Some other countries have standards for childcare facilities. For children at the stage of having gained verbal language capabilities it is desirable to have an environment where speech is easily intelligible. In the examples of other countries, the environment needs to be quieter than the acoustical environment in primary schools and the rooms need to have short reverberation times.
• When we measured the noise level in multiple childcare facilities, we found examples where the noise level exceeds 85 dB. This is the decibel level stipulated in Japan’s Labor Standards Act as of concerning hearing loss.
• A study was conducted in which sound absorbing material was temporarily installed in a childcare facility. As a result of the material’s installation, the noise level was reduced. The change in the noise level was greater than anticipated based on the characteristics of the material installed. The sound absorption reduced the boisterous feeling of the space, and this made the childcare workers and the children realize that they could speak more quietly. The total improvement therefore comprised both the noise reduction achieved by the sound absorbing material and also the unanticipated reduced noise from changes in the behavior of the children and childcare workers.
• As the childcare industry evolves, it’s possible that the room environment a childcare facility offers will affect the business feasibility of the facility.
• Many sound absorbing materials attract dust and dirt. There are concerns about which sound absorbing materials are appropriately hygienic for childcare facilities.
• Is it possible to have a disposable sound absorbing material intended to be thrown away and replaced after a set period of time, or a sound absorbing material that can be laundered?
<< Hearing the Examples of Q&A Exchanged at the Symposium >>
There was one question from an architect among the questions collected during the symposium’s intermission. The architect asked if there is a good strategy for this situation, when in a childcare facility, a lunchroom and a room used for children to take afternoon naps are located close to each other.
Meiji University Associate Professor Kanako Ueno answered that the fundamental thinking on sound isolation strategies puts a strong emphasis on the room layout of a project. Waseda University’s Associate Professor Masayuki Sato—who studies childcare facility environments—continued with a comment that the discussion might be putting the cart before the horse by trying to solve through architecture something that can be handled in a different manner. Prof. Sato suggested that if older children would be shown the infants or toddlers sleeping in the room adjacent to the lunchroom, they might be persuaded to spend their lunch time more quietly.
Thinking of family situations where one person gets sick or some other temporary condition requires a quiet environment, it makes sense to ask children in the home to be considerate and adapt to the situation. However, in the case of something that occurs daily and repeatedly at childcare facilities because of a problem in the planning of some facilities, it may not be appropriate for the acoustical experts to be the sole judge of how to remedy the situation. And, I think as the people in the childcare industry had not any chance to contact the acoustical consultants, they may not have any idea that they can produce a better environment with the use of sound absorbing materials in the facility interiors.
<< Thoughts for the Future >>
It goes without saying that to build or improve a space with a good outcome, regardless of the building or facility’s purpose, it’s necessary that the people responsible for maintaining and administering the space, the users of the space and the design team communicate together and exchange ideas so that everyone’s knowledge and expertise can benefit the project. Little by little, as awareness of and interest in the acoustical environment of spaces such as childcare facilities grows, it may be expected that this will lead, for example, to increased use of sound absorbing materials and other strategies to improve the acoustical environments in these kinds of facilities.
The July symposium served as a departure point where regulators, representatives of the childcare industry, architects, acoustical consultants and building material manufacturers engaged in lively discussion. I hope this event will inspire an increase in the number of childcare facilities with excellent acoustical environments for both the children who attend the facilities and the people who work there.
Nagata Acoustics Inc.
Hongo Segawa Bldg. 3F, 2-35-10 Hongo
Bunkyo-ku, Tokyo 113-0033, Japan
Tel: +81-3-5800-2671, Fax: +81-3-5800-2672
1990 S. Bundy Drive, Suite 795
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel: +1-310-231-7878, Fax: +1-310-231-7816
75, avenue Parmentier
Tel: +33 (0)1 40 21 44 25, Fax: +33 (0)1 40 21 24 00