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OPEN AIR THEATRE

Brief introduction
Design principles

Case studyAnsal plaza(HUDCO PLACE)

Acoustics first became associated with architecture when men


began to assemble in groups to hear speeches, listen to music
and see and hear plays.
To create a favourable setting for such activities the Greek and Roman open-air
theatres and forums evolved, and many of them have survived to this day.
The typical open-air amphitheatre consists of steeply banked benches arranged in a
semicircle (in front of a platform).
With the passage of time the platform evolved into a
stage with massive rear and sidewalls of masonry (and
sometimes a ceiling) that served the acoustical purpose
of reflecting, directing and thereby reinforcing the
sound intended for the audience.
Vitruvius, the first-century Roman architect and
engineer, wrote that large vases tuned as resonators
were often located in the seating area to reinforce certain
sounds. Whether or not such vases were actually used is
uncertain, but in any case they could only have
absorbed sound, not reinforced it.

Sound reflected
from tiers
The principal defect of the Greek and Roman theatres is
that the semicircular tiers of seats act as reflectors
that tend to focus sounds from the stage back to a
point on or near the stage.

Focus
back
near the
source

Moreover, the echoes from concentric tiers are reinforced at certain frequencies and diminished at
others.
The reason is that the vertical risers, which form the backs of the benches,
create an level of uniformly spaced reflecting surfaces.
The reflected waves are in phase and reinforce each other when the
distance between risers is equal to one, two, three or any other whole
number of half-wavelengths.
When the distance between risers is one, three, five or any other odd
number of quarter-wavelengths, the reflected waves meet in contrary phase
and thus tend to cancel each other.

Constructive
Interference

Focus on
stage

The sound reflected from the tiers of benches produces a sustained echo
whose characteristic pitch is determined by the distance separating adjacent
risers.

As a result, when speech or music is heard in an open-air theatre or in a


room or auditorium in which there are parallel and uniformly placed reflecting
surfaces the reflected sound may suffer a serious distortion in frequency.
Fortunately in an open-air theatre these frequency-dependent reflections
generally pass over the heads of the audience, but since the reflections
come to a focus on the stage they can be extremely disturbing to performers rehearsing in an empty theatre.

ACOUSTICAL DESIGN PRINCIPLES


Proper acoustics of a building means two things:

Control of noise at an acceptable level


Noise control measures commonly comprise of the selection of site in the quite
area and treatment against the structure and air borne noise.

Distinct speech or music audibility by the whole audience inside the


enclosure
The desired hearing conditions depend largely upon the shape and the size of the
hall, the total sound absorptions available and whether or not the hall is provided
with sound amplification systems; the type of activity is also a predominant
consideration.

Reflected sound

Direct sound

The circular shape means


sound is reflected back
into the auditorium, this
increases sound intensity.

PRECEDENCE
EFFECT

An open-air theatre has no roof overhead,


although it may have an enclosing barrier all
around.
The absence of a roof and therefore of a
reverberant field, demands high accuracy in
predicting the early reflections.
The energy dissipates quickly in this type of
enclosures and there is little masking effect of the
reverberation. The inverse cone shape of these
theatres also puts serious limitations to the imagesource method, where great areas are in the
shadow zone of the mirroring surface.

The

earliest sound that arrives determines the sense of the


origin of a sound, even if the later (<100 ms) reflections are
louder.
The

direct sound should arrive first.

The dot on the stage is


the source and the dots
on the seating area are
7 receiver positions.
THE ASPENDOS ROMAN THEATRE WITH A PERFORMANCE STAGE

In the simple model the seating area (cavea) is shaped as sloping surfaces and
the back wall (proscenium) behind the stage is modelled as a plane surface. In the
detailed model, the cavea is defined with seat rows and stairs, a colonnade behind
the last row and a more detailed proscenium.
One of the reasons for the detailed model to give better results is that definition of
the rows on the cavea horizontal reflections between cavea and proscenium.
The sound will in this case bounces back and forth between the vertical seat
rises and the proscenium wall. These reflections will arrive at a listener position
with large delay and attenuation but will nevertheless contribute to a long
reverberation time.

REFLECTION PATHS IN A SIMPLE AND


DETAILED CAVEA.

It has been shown that in simulations of open-air roman theatres the definition of the
seating area has a big impact on the acoustics of the room. When the cavea of the
theatre is modelled
1. AS SLOPED SURFACES

the theatre will resemble the shape of an inverse cone.


This shape will tend to direct most of the reflections towards the open sky and
therefore the energy will dissipate quickly leaving few late reflections.
2. DETAILED SEATING AREA

A detailed seating area with rows and steps allows horizontal reflections between
seat rises and proscenium resulting in higher accordance with measured data.

The following points should be observed in the design of


the open-air theatre:
The site should be away from industrial or community
noise.
The noise level on the site should not exceed 40 db
and occasional disturbance exceeding this value should
not occur more than once in an hour.
The theatre should preferably be constructed in sound
shadow cast by hill, an embankment across any noisy
zones.
The prevailing wind direction should not be from the
noisy zone towards the theater but away from it.
Tall trees must form the rear boundary of the theatre as they are very useful in
absorbing external noise and preventing delayed sound reflections inside the theater
which otherwise cause echoes. Plus they also lend a nice landscape to the theatre.
The floor should be properly graded, to give good visibility and audibility to all the
rows of the listeners
The slope of the floor should be towards the stage and it should be about 12 to 15
degrees to the horizontal.

The shape of the theatre should be such that most of the


audience is drawn close to the stage.

A semicircular shape admirably satisfies this condition but it


does not suite to the directional properties of the sound.
To have satisfactory sound levels at all the places a fan
shape theatre is considered good, particularly when the
stage walls and proscenium reinforcement cause the sound
levels at the remote places by reflection.
The direction of the prevailing winds must be from the stage towards the audience
The stage walls and ceilings must be designed to obtain maximum throw and
diffusion of sound towards remote places.
The back wall of the stage must be vertical, with plane or convex corrugation for the
reflection.
The sidewalls should be splayed outwards to avoid fluttering of sound and to obtain
beneficial reflection.

The sound level distribution may be estimated by the method of images.


The sound intensity drops off as the inverse square of the distance. The side walls
are also provide with corrugations. The stage ceiling should slope upwards so as to
arrest and throw the outgoing sound onto the audience.
The capacity of the open-air theatre should not exceed about 600 persons if they
are to hear clearly and the performers are to speak without strain.
However with adequate sound amplification the theater may accommodate about
200 persons.
The area of the theatre excluding the stage may be calculated at the rate of 0.8to
1sqm per person, including gangways.

If the seats are so staggered that every seat is displaced


sideways from one in front by half the width of the seat, the
area provided should be about 1 to 1.20 sqm per person.
Sound absorption by the audience, unoccupied seats and
the air must be taken into account into the design.
Factors such as humidity, temperature, fog and the wind
velocity, which affect the sound transmission, must be
considered

Amphitheatre
Area:3000sqm
A part of HUDCO Place built
on 35 acres of land, Ansal
Plaza is a shopping complex
situated near South
Extension.
A perfect hangout destination, it is built in a circular fashion around an
amphitheatre with a centre stage. Different cultural functions are organized here
from time to time such as fashion shows, live band performances and performing
arts to promote the retail area.
The circular entity of the building has a special significance - it reflects the
individuality of a shopping mall, indicating to the customer that each and every
part of the building has something of quality to offer.
Leading off from the blue bowl and circular minar here the central axis oath at the
stepped level, interacting spaces a communicative linkage with nature generates
soothing.

The semi-circular design


clearly indicates a fundamental
understanding of the spherical
propagation of sound, and a
desire that every member of an
audience should hear equally well
what is being intoned on stage .

The acoustic advantages of a stepped


dish are only optimised however when
the speaker is standing at the exact
centre stage; only then will the voice
propagate symmetrically, and reflect
back from unoccupied areas to the same
point

The surrounding building blocks and the


landscaped area in the back of the
seating acts the embankment to the
amphitheatre from the noise coming from
the surrounding area

Seating area

View from inside


the ansals

As such no backstage is
provided, the sound
appears to spread out
when no audience is sitting
and no extra measures
have been taken to
enhance the sound
propagation.

The small green areas


are provided around the
amphitheatre which act as
a absorbers along the
colonnades

The stage with


marble finishreflecting surface

View towards
the stage

And the colonnaded


feature around the
seating area,sound will
in this case bounces
back and forth between
the vertical seat rises ,
the colonnaded feature
and the surrounding built
forms
Sound
absorbed by
the
colonnades

The reverberation sound


produced by the reflecting
surface of the glass is
absorbed by the porous
finish of the colonnades
Source of the
sound
Reflected sound

Propagated
sound

This amphi lies in


the
depression(bowl)of
the ansals

Sound reflecting
from the glass
surface of the
building

Sound is absorbed by the


heavy landscaped area
(buffer zone)

The amphitheatre is situated in a sound shadow area casted


by the surrounding shopping complex and also act as sound
barriers
Sound barriers work on the
principle of casting a
acoustic shadow away from
the source. Clearly if there is
line-of-sight between source
and the listener, there is no
acoustic shadow and no
noise reduction.

The glass provided around the amphitheatre(on the


building faade) acts as the reflectors
The shape of the theater is such that most of
the audience is drawn close to the stage.

The colonnades surrounding the amphitheatre are used


for three purposes:
(a)sound absorbers and reflectors (due to surface finish
material-porous red sandstone)
(b) placing of speakers and lights
(c) decoration at the time of event

The slope of the floor is towards


the stage and it is nearly about 12 to
15 degrees to the horizontal.
Feels almost horizontal

The back of the


speaker has to be
covered at the time
of show because of
the surrounding
parking

lights
Placement of
speakers

Propagation of sound
towards the audience

Varying
heights to
break the
path of
sound as
required
The sound
prorogating from the
back is absorbed at
the ends by the plants

SLOPE OF OPEN AIR THEATRE


Seats are set on rising perabolic curve
A fairly mild slope for the lower half of the auditorium (behave near the main
stage)
A sleepers slope for the upper rare half
The slope recommended for the lower portion is 12 (i.e. rise of about 1 min.
in 7)
For the upper 24
(about 1 min in 3)

SEATS DETAILS

The width of each seat should not be less than 18


Max. width of seat is 23
A comfortable
width of seat is 21
Distance between rows of seats should be 3

STAGE

There is 1 large main stage and two smaller side stages in front of the audience
The level should be 3 above the base of the lowest row of seats
A proscenium (stage area) opening of about 70
Plenty of wing space at least 50 at each side of the acting area
A height of the proscenium wall on each side of the opening should be set in
order to mask the back stage activity from the audience
A back wall for a 70 proscenium opening would be about 110

BACK STAGE AREA

There should be plenty of free space for the assembling of actors


Adequate spaces for the storing and sheltering of the portable
units and other equipements
All the electrical wiring should be under ground
Sufficient space for drying and washing costumes
Sufficient number of washrooms
1 shower and 1 toilet for 6 person
1 wash basin for 4 persons
Several urinals for men
More toilets for women
MAKE-UP TABLE
Make-up table width is 18 and 30 height
Space for each actor should be 26 or 3
Light on make-up mirror is of 75 watt on each side