An auditorium is a large room or hall designed for public gatherings, such as concerts, theater productions, and lectures. It typically includes a stage for performers, seating for the audience, and often advanced audio and lighting systems. The design of an auditorium is intended to enhance the acoustics and overall experience for the audience.
Auditoriums can vary greatly in size and capacity, ranging from small, intimate venues to large, expansive spaces that can hold thousands of people. They are often found in performing arts centers, schools, universities, and community centers.
The seating in an auditorium is typically arranged in a tiered or raked configuration, which allows for optimal viewing and acoustics. The stage area is often equipped with curtains, backdrops, and lighting fixtures to create different settings and moods for performances.
Auditoriums can also be equipped with state-of-the-art sound and lighting systems to enhance the performance experience. These systems can include sound reinforcement, mixing consoles, and digital audio workstations, as well as advanced lighting fixtures, dimming systems, and control systems.
In addition to hosting live performances, auditoriums are also used for a variety of other events, such as conferences, seminars, and graduation ceremonies. They are also commonly used as venues for film screenings, religious services, and political rallies.
The three-dimensional volume of an auditorium is conditioned by the need for all members of the audience to be ready to see the total of the platform or stage and to hear the actor, singer, musician or speaker, Visual and aural limitations.
Seating density, floor rake and seating layout are partly determined by this, partly to give the audience an appropriate level of comfort and essentially to ensure a means of escape in an emergency, such as fire, within the time required by safety considerations and by legislation.
Visual and aural limitations
a) Plan: for a performer at center stage B there’s an arc Y on the far side that visual and aural perceptions are impaired. However, for performers nearer the edges of the stage at A and C produce a lot of restrictive curves X.
(b) Section: Similarly, visual and aural limits in section also set an arc centred on the performer
i) Design of the auditorium seat
The aim is to provide an appropriate standard of comfort. The range of human body dimensions is wide, while in most auditoria a single size of seat is provided, Auditorium seating and Table I (See below).
Tolerance levels vary: young people can tolerate simple seating found less comfortable by older people. Those attending concerts of classical music seem to expect more comfort than those watching drama.
Seats are generally designed for the average person expected to use it; this varies according to age and nationality. Minor variation is achieved by the upholstery and adjustment of the back and seat pan material when the seat is occupied: otherwise, the seat selection is a common size within the whole, or part of, the auditorium layout.
The best able to be achieved is in the order of 90% of the audience within an acceptable range of comfort The aim is to provide an appropriate standard of comfort.
Definitions of terms and dimensional information (to be read in conjunction with Table I): a – Plan, b – Section.
ii) Working dimensions
Seat width: The minimum dimension as stipulated by legislation is upholstered bench seating. support off floor or tread 500 mm with arms and 450 mm without. For seats with arms a width of 525 mm is the least for reasonable comfort.
Seat height: 430–450 mm.
Seat inclination: An angle to the horizontal of 7–9°.
Back height: 800–850 mm above floor level (may be increased for acoustic reasons).
Back inclination: Angle to the vertical of 15–20°.
Seat depth: 600–720 mm for seat and back depth overall, reducing to 425–500 mm when the seat is tipped. The seat depth varies and depends on thickness of upholstery and backing and if the rear of the seat contains the air-conditioning. For a modest seat with arms, without overlap of riser the dimensions can be as low as 520 mm deep, 340 mm when tipped.
The ability of the seat to tip, activated silently by weight when not occupied, allows a clearway (which is a critical dimension) to pass along a row while limiting row to row distance. Where space is severely limited such as in studio theatres, an especially slim seat, (as shown in figure below) can be used.
Arm rests: 50 mm minimum width, with the length coinciding with the tipped seat to avoid obstructing the clearway; the height about 600 mm above floor level; the upper surface may be sloped or not.
The permanent fixing of a seat can be:
Side supports shared by adjacent seats, as shown in figure below.
A pedestal or single vertical support, as shown in figure below.
Cantilevered brackets fixed to riser (if of sufficient height) and shared by adjacent seats, as shown in figure below.
A bar supporting a group of seats with leg or bracket support, as shown in figure below.
iv) Other factors
Acoustics: upholstery to satisfy the acoustic requirements, usually the level of absorbency when unoccupied, especially the case with music, as shown in figure below.
Ventilation and heating: for air supply or extract under a seat, allow space in floor or riser to receive grille, as shown in figure below.
Upholstery: thickness of padding should provide comfort and avoid fatigue, but not encourage excessive relaxation; material of padding and finish must satisfy fire regulations.
v) Writing surface
Conference use may require a writing surface for note-taking. The writing surface may be:
A tablet fixed to each seat, as shown in figure below.
A removable tablet
A tablet pivoted to slide away vertically, as shown in figure below.
A writing shelf on the back of the row in front, which can be fixed in position, hinged or retractable, as shown in figure below.
A fixed table with loose seat, or
A fixed table with fixed pivoting or sliding seat, as shown in figure below.
Table seating has the advantage that delegates can pass behind the row of seats, and assistants can sit behind the delegates.
In a theatre or concert hall where there is occasional conference use every other row of seats can be used with temporary tables, as shown in figure below.
vi) Wired services
- These may be required for conference use. They can be incorporated into the arm of the seat, as shown in figure or into the rear of the seat or table in front.
- For music, drama and cinema there may be provision for earphones for people with hearing impairment, or this facility may be provided by an induction loop.
In summary, an auditorium is a large room or hall designed for public gatherings, such as concerts, theater productions, and lectures, typically it includes a stage for performers, seating for the audience, and often advanced audio and lighting systems. The design of an auditorium is intended to enhance the acoustics and overall experience for the audience.