Arup joins our Cultural Cities forum in September



We are delighted that Tateo Nakajima, Director at Arup and internationally recognised leader in the design and planning of cultural venues and developments, is joining our 'Cultural Cities' forum this month at the V&A Museum, London.


He describes himself as leading a highly creative and passionate team, which focuses on the design of cultural venues and developments across the world. Tateo is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and the Institute of Acoustics.


Tateo states:


'Our work engages deeply in the way spaces for arts, culture and entertainment shape and support the continuing evolution of our collective identity, as well as the sustainability of our communities. From theatres, opera houses and concert halls to museums, pop entertainment venues, immersive experiences and arts, culture and entertainment districts, I have worked with major artists, arts organisations, and architecture and design practices to lead a wide range of projects worldwide – including the National Forum of Music in Wrocław, Poland.'


The National Forum of Music is the new home to several resident orchestra and ensembles including the NFM Wroclaw Philharmonic Orchestra, the Wroclaw Baroque Orchestra, the Leopoldinum Chamber Orchestra, the Lutosławski Quartet, and the Wroclaw Philharmonic Choir. In addition to the Wratislavia Cantans Festival, it is also home to other internationally recognized festivals as well as other performances by major touring ensembles and orchestras.


The multi-venue facility includes an 1,800-seat concert hall and two additional halls for 120 and 250 seats; three chamber halls intended for chamber orchestra, chamber music, pop, and jazz performances; and spaces for the facility’s ten resident companies and seven resident festivals.


Tateo continues:

'My work centres around the way we experience our world through what we hear, see and touch. I believe that the spaces we live, work and recreate in should not be generic and that they should represent our culture and values. Design matters – I focus on positively impacting the lives of people by enabling the creation of impactful and memorable cultural experiences. Culture is fundamental to how we as societies establish, maintain, and evolve our sense of identity, community sustainability, and wellbeing.'


Arup has pioneered digital tools’ ability to improve the physical world. Its work on the Virginia Tech CreateCube Arup says represents the coming shift to hybrid environments, where digital technologies are used to enhance the experience of physical art. Its SoundLab modelling suite allows clients and public to experience how venues will look, feel, and sound, before they are built. The firm has used these tools in creative collaboration with artists and musicians like Lou Reed and Nick Cave, producing immersive spatial experiences for the listener. Its MassMotion tool provides data-driven insights into the movement of people in public spaces, informing better design choices.


Arup has worked with Björk to design a new kind of stage production for her Cornucopia tour. Combining elements of live theatre, immersive media, and musical ensemble, ­­­­­­­­­­­­ Arup says Björk pushed the boundaries of the live concert experience. In her latest show, she sought to capture the intimacy of singing live in a small room, unaided by traditional stage amplification and audio processing.


She commissioned Arup to design an acoustic reverberation chamber as part of the touring set — a unique approach to live stage performance that projects an encapsulated and solacing moment to a large-scale audience. The reverb chamber becomes both sanctuary and instrument, enabling Björk to sing in a naturally enveloping acoustic.

Arup describes how its acoustic designers worked iteratively with Björk and her creative team, developing a form that achieved a lush and enveloping natural reverberation for the touring production. For the shape, materiality, and size of the chamber, Björk and her team worked with Shane Myrbeck, Wendy Lee, and Raj Patel, using the Arup SoundLab in their design process to develop and deliver the final form.

Based on previous experience with our SoundLab, Arup says that Björk approached it for our ability to model and simulate the experience of singing in the chamber. She challenged the Arup team to evaluate a wide variety of shapes and materials and relied on us to consider every implication of the chamber form: acoustics first, but also audience sightlines, weight, portability, and durability in a touring environment.


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