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Not only is music great when you need to cut loose after a long day at work, it has the unbelievable ability to transcend societal boundaries and actually make you feel better on a chemical level. When terrible things happen, listening to music will get your brain to release dopamine (the feel-good chemical) and cause your blood vessels to actually relax — among a myriad of other effects. Knowing this, renowned Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and British-Indian sculpture Anish Kapoor partnered up to make an inflatable concert hall that toured areas of Japan hit the hardest by the March 11, 2011 earthquakes and tsunamis.
"I am honored to have been asked to design Ark Nova for the Tohoku area. The structure defines a space for community and for music in which color and form enclose," says Anish Kapoor. "I hope that the devastation can be overcome by creativity. Music can give solace and bring community together, and in so doing can help us to see we are not alone."
Ark Nova was made in collaboration with the organizers of Lucerne Festival and is quite literally an air-inflated membrane that is equipped with all the stage and sound equipment needed for a world-class concert. It takes around two hours for the structure to be inflated and is able to fit around 500 people during an orchestra performance. Benches and acoustic reflectors/boards were made using wood from tsunami-ravaged cedar trees at the beloved Zuiganji Temple in Matsushima. Once deflated, Ark Nova can be easily folded up and loaded onto a truck, which makes transport easy.
Though it seems the tour officially ended October 14 — including concerts by the Sendai Philharmonic, traditional Japanese kabuki performances, and workshops for children — there are rumors that it will continue touring throughout the month, and we really hope it's true.