Ark Nova: The Inflatable Concert Hall

Architecture Dated:  July 1, 2016
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Ark Nova

Most of us have heard about dynamic, movable structures. But Sculptor Anish Kapoor and Architect Arata Isozaki revolutionarily changed the dynamics by designing the world’s first fully inflatable and mobile concert hall called Ark Nova. This was used in the Lucerne Festival of 2015 in Matushima, Japan.

This design is in response to the massive earthquake and tsunami that hit Japan in the year 2011. Ark Nova literally means “new ark” with the hope to be the symbol of recovery after the major disaster. As told by the designers, "Ark Nova can't obviously carry people and animals to escape from disaster, but we conceived the ark to travel packed with music and various arts, from the perspective of long-term rebuilding of culture.” The designers have tried to instill a sense of positivity with a beautiful purple structure with hand-crafted interior benches and a stage. Kapoor says, “The structure defines a space for community and for music in which color and form enclose.”

Now this structure that that resembles a bulbous, enormous grape has the capacity of 500 people inside its translucent membrane that is made of a PVC-coated polyester of ca. 2000 square meters. The thickness of that membrane is 0.63 mm and the mass in 1700 kg. The volume of the hall after inflating the membrane comes out to be over 9000 cubic meters, the maximum expansion being 29 meters in width, 36 meters in length and 18 meters in height. The area inside the hall is 680 square meters with the capacity of 500 seats in a flexible arrangement. Another interesting feature of Ark Nova is that the auditorium seating is crafted from wood found from ancient cedar trees growing near Zuiganji Temple which were uprooted by the disaster.

The building has a diagonal tube across the interior which not only acts as a support when the building is inflated but is also helpful in modulating the acoustics of the hall. The opaque purple color from outside and the translucent red color from inside creates a beautiful visual experience by allowing an organic change in the light levels. 

The following images show a few renderings of the Ark Nova-

Mock-up model of the hallMock-up model of the hall
Color sketch of the aark novaa mobile concert hallColor sketch of the ‘ark nova’ mobile concert hall
Interior sketchInterior sketch
concert hallConcert Hall
Rough sketch of floor planRough sketch of floor plan
Cross-section sketchCross-section sketch
concert-hall-areaConcert Hall Area
concert hall areaConcert Hall Area
concert hallConcert Hall
Various stage layouts depending on programsVarious stage layouts depending on programs

The following video shows the entire process of construction of Ark Nova beautifully: - 


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