Ark Nova Mobile Pavilion

Two years after a major earthquake and tsunami hit Japan, architect Arata Isozaki and artist Anish Kapoor have completed an inflatable mobile concert hall that tour the affected regions.

Ark Nova, the concert hall, is an air-inflated and easily transportable structure which is equipped with the necessary stage and sound equipment. The membrane can be folded up and the equipment dismantled and loaded on a truck, so they can be transported to each site. It is designed to seat about 500 during an orchestral performance and is planned to have a width of 30m, length of 36m and a maximum height of 18m.

The shell consists of a PVC-coated polyester membrane and the toroidal shape of the building turns in on itself, creating a diagonal tube across the interior. From the outside this gives a view of the sky through the building. The tensile fabric was developed to the artist’s specification, with a bespoke colour.

The final result appears opaque-purple from the outside and translucent-red from the inside, providing concert goers with a surprising visual experience. The skin’s translucence allows for an organic change in light levels. The internal tube is visually arresting and helps modulate acoustics.

Creating this toroidal shape for Ark Nova has most definitely pushed the limits of inflatables’ design.


Project: Ark Nova Mobile Pavilion

Location: Matsushima, Japan

Architect: Arata Isozaki, Japan

Artist: Anish Kapoor, India

Technical info: PVC-coated polyester membrane Picture credits: Lucerne Festival