Ark Nova: Blow-up concert hall inflates in Japan

Mobile building that accommodates up to 500 will tour various locations in Japan's disaster-struck Northeast, playing host to world-class performances.

Shannon Siow
Lucerne Festival

From the outside, it looks like a giant purple doughnut. And the world's first inflatable building is sweet indeed.

British sculptor Anish Kapoor and Japanese architect Arata Isozaki recently took the wraps off the project, called Ark Nova. It has been in the works since 2011, the year Japan's Northeastern coast was hit by a massive tsunami.

The Lucerne Festival, a summer music event in Switzerland, commissioned the project in hopes of helping the disaster-struck area heal from the calamity.

Lucerne Festival

The inflatable concert hall is designed to house about 500 people. It's made up of a balloon-like material that can be easily packed up and transported to another location via truck. Seats and acoustic reflectors in the building were created using wood from cedar trees previously damaged by the tsunami. The structure has a width, length, and maximum height of 98 feet, 118 feet, and 59 feet, respectively.

The balloon-like material is attached to a trailer for ease of transportation and is inflated when in use. Lucerne Festival

The venue is already being utilized by acts such as the Sendai Philharmonic and traditional Japanese theater (kabuki), with many more cultural events (PDF) scheduled through mid-October.

It remains to be seen if Ark Nova will make its way to the other parts of Japan, or better yet, the rest of the world. But using the power of music and art to transcend language barriers, this effort certainly holds a lot of promise for bringing a little joy to those who've been struck by disaster.

The inflated interior is truly a sight to behold. Lucerne Festival

(Source: Crave Asia via Artlyst)