And while housing and food were of primary importance, the renowned Lucerne Festival decided to help with culture, a factor that has always brought communities together and provided welcome strength. The resulting Ark Nova Project is a delight for the eyes, ears, and heart – a musical ray of hope that reaches its first destination, Miyagi Prefecture’s Matsushima City, this fall.

Erection of the ARK NOVA hall
Erection of the ARK NOVA hall

The Ark Nova Project was initiated by the Lucerne Festival straight after the earthquake to serve as a symbol of recovery and provide emotional help. Jam-packed with music and other arts, the Ark Nova supplies the devastated regions with a dash of culture and renewed spirit. Due to the area’s dearth of concert halls or exhibition spaces, the project’s Artistic and Executive Director, Michael Haefliger, asked famous architect Arata Isozaki and renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor to come up with a movable multi-purpose space. The Japanese architect and Indian sculptor took on the challenge and created a unique venue, one that is truly one-of-a-kind: The resulting Ark Nova concert hall is an air-inflated membrane structure, equipped with essential stage and sound equipment. Once folded up, the entire membrane and equipment fit into a single truck, allowing for easy construction and dismantling anywhere and anytime. The interior is designed as a single continuous space that accommodates various events and seats approx. 500 guests for an orchestra performance.

“Since the Lucerne Festival has maintained a very close relationship with Japan for many years, I felt a strong desire to contribute to overcoming the consequences of the catastrophe, within the scope of what we have to offer,“ adds Michael Haefliger. “The impressive concert hall will not only serve as a performance platform for high-class artistic projects, but should also become a place of encounter and inspiring creativity, thus helping to develop and promote the region’s own culture.“

Text: Lia Pack
All pictures, incl. the header image: LUCERNE FESTIVAL ARK NOVA 2013