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World’s first inflatable concert hall debuts in Japan’s disaster area

The world’s first inflatable concert hall is all set to debut this weekend, hosting a number of special events in northeastern Japan, the region devastated by 2011’s quake and tsunami.

The extraordinary purple and red structure, which can hold around 500 people, was the idea of Lucerne Festival’s artistic and executive director Michael Haefliger, who worked with British artist and sculptor Anish Kapoor and Japanese architect Arata Isozaki to make it a reality.

Comprising a coated polyester material, Ark Nova, which is 18 meters high and 35 meters wide, can be quickly deflated, allowing for easy transportation to other locations.

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“The images of 11 March, 2011 have left their mark on all of us,” Haefliger told the Telegraph. “Since we at Lucerne Festival have maintained a very close relationship to Japan for many years, I felt a strong desire to make a contribution to overcoming the consequences of the catastrophe, within the scope of what we have to offer.”

The blow-up concert hall will host its first events this weekend in the town of Matsushima, Miyagi Prefecture, with concerts by the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra, traditional kabuki performances and musical workshops for local children all planned.

Concert-goers will sit on bench seats made from cedar trees that following the tsunami had to be cleared from around nearby Zuiganji Temple. The wood was also used to make acoustic reflectors for inside the hall.

Kapoor said he was “honored” to have been asked to help create Ark Nova.

“The structure defines a space for community and for music in which color and form enclose,” the artist and sculptor said, adding, “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.”

[Images: Anish Kapoor]

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