Maly Koncert


Architect Firm: Ryo Otsuka Architects
Principle Architects:  Ryo Otsuka
Design Team: Tetsuya Tanaka (Tetsuya Tanaka Structural Engineers), Keiji Oguchi, Ryuichi Wada (Nagata Acoustics)
Location: Tokyo, Japan
Total Floor Area: 199.04 m2
Completion Date: April 2021
Photography: Keiko Chiba / Nacasa & Partners



The site is located at the end of an arcade that leads from a quiet residential and shopping district in Itabashi-Ku, Tokyo. The surrounding area is very nostalgic, with many houses and small shops, and in springtime, the Shakujii River is filled with people who flock there to admire the pink blooms of the Sakura trees. The architecture’s shape is formed by the shape of the site and merged into the neighborhood, standing quietly in the back alley.

When planning a small membership-based music salon in such an area, it is important to ensure that the sound quality is the same as that in a large-scale music hall, and set a high noise control to protect against noise filtering in from the dense surrounding neighborhood. Natural circulation is created with the irregular flagpole-shaped site, entering the space from the rod-shaped part of the site to flow into the rest of it. An attached room is lifted to integrate various functions, which includes storing sound equipment.

In the planning stage, the architect considered the following question: “What kind of space would one prefer, to listen to classical music in?” The answer turned out to be simple, creating a space with enhanced sound effect, where music, musician, and space unite to be one.
A musical instrument in itself has a unique beauty that is reflected in the meticulous craftmanship of its form, the glossy veneer of its finish, and the clarity of its tone. Combined with the performer’s showmanship style, the pairing becomes immaculate. To highlight this “total” performance, the space is constructed with powerful raw materials that create a natural focal point on the musicians and their performance. The goal is to craft an instrument-like space that intensifies over time; a modern classic architecture that never pales or stales.

In the main music salon, the proportion of the space is designed based on acoustic simulation, to ensure that sound can evenly reverberate throughout the space within the limited building height. Often, flutter echoes occur when the ceiling, floor, and wall are arranged parallel to one another. To avoid this, numerous acoustic panels are added to ensure that the sound can spread evenly throughout the space. The plan and site are shaped as an irregular quadrilateral, and a square roof is adopted for the double-height section. This achieves a uniform acoustic effect, while also making practical sense for equipment to be displayed under the sloped ceiling.

The main space is designed to be pillar-free, with reinforced-concrete walls, to secure and contain the echo of base tones. The design makes good use of the linear space in the small site, improving overall noise control, as well as incorporating necessary equipment and buffer zones. The space is proportioned in a mix of hardness and softness—hardness from the architecture, and softness from the sound effect, giving the space a balanced harmony.