The power of architecture is most acutely felt where it is unexpected. The Music Hall in the Sky shows how architecture can change human perceptions and experiences, and how a small, inconspicuous building situated amid the hustle and bustle of Tokyo was turned into a peaceful haven for an intimate concert or recital. Music Hall in the Sky is a small classical music performance venue for 50, surrounded by three-storey buildings in a medium-density residential district of Tokyo. The unusual size and location of the plot presented a rare challenge to architect Takuro Yamamoto, but he was inspired when he looked up and saw the blue sky above him.
Yamamoto decided that the contrast between the bustling neighbourhood and the silence inside the concert hall prior to a performance must be startling, and he focused on soundproofing, acoustics, and staging. Although a concert hall usually lacks windows, he did not want its small size to make people feel claustrophobic. He wanted concertgoers to be able to escape from the busy streets of Tokyo to a sanctuary where they could relax and enjoy the music.
A window to/in the sky
Windows were a challenge because the site was surrounded by residential buildings, so there were no desirable views. Yamamoto designed a narrow skylight window against the gable wall allowing in just a sliver of natural light, and another narrow window on stage below eye level. Outside, however, a corresponding set of mirrors placed at a 45° angle reflects the view of the sky, and, thanks to this optical illusion, concertgoers feel they are either in a penthouse, observation deck, or an aircraft as they look out of the window and see the sky. When the weather cooperates, they are treated to a wonderful and unforgettable experience as they watch clouds sail across the sky and listen to classical music.
From conceptualisation to completion, the Music Hall in the Sky project is predicated on one simple purpose: to allow concertgoers to get away from their busy lives and enjoy music. Little do they know what an extraordinary auditory and visual experience awaits them as they enter the hall. Yamamoto worked around the site’s constraints, and the user experience remains the cornerstone of his design. Animated by floating clouds in the sky above, the building comes alive and offers the best accompaniment to any piece of music through meticulous problem-solving and the clever use of optics.