LPR Architects designed the award-winning, widely recognised Aicon concert hall seat for the Helsinki Music Centre, developing new solutions for traditional seats. The goal was to create an elegant seat that is comfortable to sit in even during a long performance. Acoustics presented additional requirements at the Music Centre, as the seats had to be acoustically suitable for the space, whether occupied or not.
The goal of the design was a visually minimalist, ergonomically and acoustically high-quality, compact seat that also took into consideration ecological use of materials.
The seat’s minimalist appearance is based on simple geometric shapes – an extruding triangle (the row of seats is triangular from the side, rectangular from the front) – less is more. Visual and technical planning were done using 3D design software, draft models and prototypes.
The comfort and ergonomics of the seat are a result of a number of prototypes and testing with a large test group. For the sake of ecology, as little foam rubber as possible was used – without sacrificing comfort.
Acoustic design followed instructions for acoustic planning, 3D plans were approved by an acoustician and finally acoustic tests were performed at the VTT Technical Research Centre of Finland, according to both specific instructions from the acoustician and the ISO 354 standard. The result was a seat that is acoustically suitable in both a nearly empty and a full concert hall.
The seat was made as narrow as possible to make seating and leaving rows easy and evacuating the hall in an emergency efficient. This led to development of a new swivelling mechanism for the seat arms. The new mechanism also made the seat easier to use. The front edge of the seat is at a height where the seat is easy to flip down – the hand easily finds the spot to grasp.
In 2012 the seat won both national and international awards: Regional Council of Southwest Finland Innoaura Award, Stuttgart Design Center FocusOpen 2012 Award and the Chicago Athenaeum Good Design Award.