PICTURES

Japan to open 'world's first' inflatable concert hall in disaster-hit coast

This handout picture taken by Lucerne Festival Arknova 2013 on Tuesday, Sept 24, 2013, shows the world's first inflatable concert hall in the disaster-hit north-eastern coast town of Matsushima in Miyagi prefecture. -- PHOTO: AFP / LUCERNE FESTI
This handout picture taken by Lucerne Festival Arknova 2013 on Tuesday, Sept 24, 2013, shows the world's first inflatable concert hall in the disaster-hit north-eastern coast town of Matsushima in Miyagi prefecture. -- PHOTO: AFP / LUCERNE FESTIVAL ARKNOVA 2013
This handout picture taken by Lucerne Festival Arknova 2013 on Saturday, Sept 21, 2013, shows the world's first inflatable concert hall in the disaster-hit north-eastern coast town of Matsushima in Miyagi prefecture. -- PHOTO: AFP / LUCERNE FEST
This handout picture taken by Lucerne Festival Arknova 2013 on Saturday, Sept 21, 2013, shows the world's first inflatable concert hall in the disaster-hit north-eastern coast town of Matsushima in Miyagi prefecture. -- PHOTO: AFP / LUCERNE FESTIVAL ARKNOVA 2013
This handout picture taken by Lucerne Festival Arknova 2013 on Sept 10, 2013, shows the world's first inflatable concert hall in the disaster-hit north-eastern coast town of Matsushima in Miyagi prefecture. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP/ LUCERNE FESTIVAL A
This handout picture taken by Lucerne Festival Arknova 2013 on Sept 10, 2013, shows the world's first inflatable concert hall in the disaster-hit north-eastern coast town of Matsushima in Miyagi prefecture. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP/ LUCERNE FESTIVAL ARKNOVA 2013
This handout picture taken by Lucerne Festival Arknova 2013 on Sept 10, 2013, shows the world's first inflatable concert hall in the disaster-hit north-eastern coast town of Matsushima in Miyagi prefecture.  -- FILE PHOTO: AFP / LUCERNE FES
This handout picture taken by Lucerne Festival Arknova 2013 on Sept 10, 2013, shows the world's first inflatable concert hall in the disaster-hit north-eastern coast town of Matsushima in Miyagi prefecture.  -- FILE PHOTO: AFP / LUCERNE FESTIVAL ARKNOVA 2013

TOKYO (AFP) - A giant purple structure believed to be the world's first inflatable concert hall is to open on Japan's disaster-hit north-eastern coast, promoters said on Wednesday.

British sculptor Anish Kapoor and Japanese architect Arata Isozaki created the unusual Ark Nova, a balloon made of a coated polyester material that has been erected at a park in the town of Matsushima.

The structure, which organisers say is a world's first, measures about 18m and 35m wide when fully inflated with room for about 500 guests. It can be easily deflated and can travel around the region to host events that "help bring people together", a press statement said.

Wood from the area's damaged cedar trees will be used for seating. The first event will run from Friday through Oct 14, including performances by the Sendai Philharmonic Orchestra and traditional Japanese kabuki theatre. The event was arranged with the help of Switzerland's Lucerne Festival, a prominent gathering of world-renowned musicians.

Japan's north-east coast was ravaged by a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and monster tsunami in March 2011, killing nearly 19,000 people and sparking a crisis at the Fukushima nuclear plant, the worst atomic accident in a generation. The tourist town of Matsushima itself was left largely unscathed because of its protected bay.

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