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Kyoto Concert Hall
Arata Isozaki & Associates

September 09, 2002 /

Kyoto, Japan

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Photo: arcspace

The Kyoto Concert Hall, the home of the Kyoto Symphony Orchestra, was planned as a Memorial for the 1,200 years celebration of the city of Kyoto.

The building is located on the boundary of the ancient capital, Heiankyo, Kitayama Street and the Kamogawa River; an area with a distinctive Kyoto significance.

Composed of three primary blocks, the Main Hall, the Ensemble Hall Murata and the Foyer, the refined exterior is clad in terracotta panels that had the texture of roof tiles. Believing that a subdued silver or black suited Kyoto Isozaki used that as a basic color of materials; limiting the colors used to a certain range. By limiting the range of materials and using only materials that can withstand the passing of time Isozaki created the texture of a building that had been there for ages.

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Photo: arcspace
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Photo: arcspace

I use ceramic panels in a way that is unusual.  Because of glazing ceramics never have perfectly flat surfaces or edges.  This tolerance for slight imperfections might be said to be the architectural equivalent of that quality people in Kyoto refer to by the word hannari  which is the highest compliment one can pay to a woman in the prime of life.  I felt that people in Kyoto would not accept something that did not possess that quality./Arata Isozaki


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Photo: arcspace

A walkway, along a Japanese style garden, leads to the Main Entrance.

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Photo: arcspace

The floor in the circular Entrance Hall is done entirely in limestone imported from Florence.  In the center of the Hall twelve pillars, placed at regular intervals, represent the twelve zodiac symbols of ancient Eastern chronology, the ox, the tiger, the hare etc. A gently sloping spiralling pathway leads to the Foyer and the two Concert Halls.

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Photo: arcspace

I made the approach complex and difficult to understand spatially... the way the Hall is long, bending in various ways and then spiralling upwards.  the approach to a temple in Kyoto is never straight. It bends and turns.  That is the technique used to make a small place seem more extensive. I use that technique three-dimensionally, not two-dimensionally./Arata Isozaki


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Photo courtesy Kyoto Concert Hall

The Foyer, that serves the two Concert halls, is enclosed by screens of translucent glass that mute the direct rays of the sun and, at the same time offers views of mountains far to the west and the Kyoto Botanical Gardens in the foreground. The open floor area at the foot of the stairs is designed to serve as a stage for lecture concerts and the like.  

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Photo: arcspace

The Main Hall, seating 1839, was designed as a typical shoe-box concert hall with two balconies surrounding both the main audience and the stage area.
The head of the stage is a 90-stop pipe organ, with both metal and wooden pipes (the largest of its kind in Japan), that can create both classical instruments and the traditional Japanese instruments.  

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Photo courtesy Kyoto Concert Hall
The Ensemble Hall Murata, in the shape of a hexagon inside a cylinder,  is designed for small orchestras of up to 30 members or for piano or chamber-music recitals. A huge lighting platform in the ceiling is in the form of  "a stellar constellation."

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Sketch courtesy Arata Isozaki & Associates
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Drawing courtesy Arata Isozaki & Associates

The building received the Kyoto City Urban Landscape Award (1995) , the BCS Award (1997) and the HIROBA Architectural Award (1996).

Facts about Kyoto Concert Hall

Site area:

9,900 m2

Building area:

5,380.26 m2

Total Floor area:

22,412 m2

Main Hall seating:

1,839

Ensemble Hall seating:

514

Architect:

Arata Isozaki & Associates

Construction:

Shimizu Corp. joint venture

Acoustical design:

Nagata Acoustics Inc.

Last updated: December 19, 2013

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