Research and Development

Yamaha Hall, Part 1: Subduing Extraneous Noise and Vibration

Showcase of Yamaha Style and Technology

The new Yamaha Ginza Building opened its doors on February 26, 2010. The complex serves as a showcase of the Yamaha music brand and includes a concert hall, music studios, and many other facilities intended to demonstrate and provide information about audio equipment and music instruments. The architects faced numerous obstacles along the way to achieving their design goals, but were able to resolve many difficult issues by relying on Yamaha technologies and concepts developed over long years of research and development. On this page we look at some of the secrets built into this sophisticated and technologically advanced building.

Fighting Against Noise and Vibration

The new Yamaha Ginza Building houses two live performance spaces—the Yamaha Ginza Studio, which is an event space located in the basement, and its showcase Yamaha Hall, a cutting-edge concert hall that serves almost as the building's alternative identity. The building also has an event area located by the first-floor entrance, a “mini” concert salon on the sixth floor, and a music school on floors 10 to 12. Since performance spaces exist throughout the entire building, one important design issue was to eliminate unwanted noise and vibration throughout the complex.

One major complication was the Ginza subway line that runs alongside the building's basement levels, separated by a single wall. The subway produces significant noise and vibration and was a major headache for the architects. Another problem is that the building is located on Ginza Avenue, a busy thoroughfare with continuous noisy traffic. Meanwhile, the various music spaces within the building itself also serve as conflicting noise sources each other. So architects faced significant problems in creating an environment and it would preserve “silence” sufficient for successful listening and performance throughout the building.

Capitalizing on Experience to Design Rich Hall Acoustics

A highly experienced concert-hall acoustics design team of the Yamaha Research and Development Department participated in the project, leveraging their experience with over 200 concert halls as they worked to design a space that would provide optimal acoustics while blocking out noise and vibrations. The team brought a high level of technical knowledge and skills to the task.

But resolution of the various problems was not straightforward. In a typical concert hall, special rubber-like cushioning unit is placed around the hall to dampen isolate vibration. But this alone was not considered sufficient in this case, as the building extends deep into the ground and would be very prone to picking up and propagating vibrations from the adjacent subway and other sources. So the design team also decided to block out various sources of vibration before they could reach the hall area.

All-Out Effort

(Click to enlarge image)

The project team quickly hit upon the idea of placing the concert hall high in the building to physically separate it from the noise and vibration from the subway, and decided to build it on floors 7 to 9. They also decided to use extra amount of concrete in the building's skeleton and flooring slab, as the additional weight of extra concrete would help to counteract vibration as a blocking mass. Other such large-scale decisions also offered promise in blocking out noise and vibration.

But the project team's acoustic engineers were not yet satisfied. They knew that you cannot go back and correct mistakes once construction of a large building has been finished. Because the building was going to become a Ginza landmark and a Yamaha showcase, the engineers felt a strong obligation to fully overcome the challenges posed by the difficult conditions and environment.

So the team decided to use doubled floors, walls, and ceilings all around the hall, with special rubber-like resilient material sandwiched in between. In other words, they employed a floating “box-in-box” design effective in damping both airborne noise and structure-propagated vibration—an approach they used not only for the hall but also for the studios, instrument shops, practice rooms, and all other potential noise and vibration sources. The result was extensive double-layer and triple-layer damping protection that you would never encounter in ordinary building design (see figure). The building's construction chief initially thought the blueprints must be wrong, and remarked that he had never seen anything comparable.

Once the project team had worked out the environment for erecting the concert hall within the building, it came time to start designing the acoustics of the hall itself. The figure below (extracted from the larger figure above) shows the hall area. As you can see, the hall flooring uses doubled floating vibration-damping rubber unit.

The large illustration shows the soundproofing and anti-vibration measures built into the Yamaha Ginza building. You can see, in particular, the floating structure of the concert hall, resting atop floating vibration-damping rubber unit. The salons and music studios are also surrounded with vibration-damping rubber unit, so noise and vibration cannot be transmitted among them.

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