Baku, Azerbaijan | June, 2013 - If ever there was a work of architecture that called for performance technology worthy of its sleek and lustrous lines, then the curvaceous, otherworldly Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku, the capital of Azerbaijan, must surely be it.
An architectural icon in this oil-rich city, its world-leading architect requested an invisible sound system. There was only one answer: Iconyx digital beam steering, a world class solution with high intelligibility.
The fluid, organic curves of this 100,000 sq m (120,000 sq yd) creation - the work of leading London-based Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid - is a visual standout even in this city of towering, landmark new-build projects.
With its wealth based on huge oil reserves, the largest city on the Caspian Sea, Baku's two million population - a quarter of the country's inhabitants - has a wealthy, arts-going demographic. When it was proposed to build an arts complex as a tribute to the late former president and father of the country's President Ilham Aliyev, no holds were barred.
The Heydar Aliyev Center's main auditorium / conference hall sits besides other cultural spaces including a gallery and museum, all represented by folds in a single continuous surface. The design philosophy was also guided by Hadid's insistence that all technology in the main 980-seat auditorium must be invisible to the audience.
Lead technical contractor A Group, based in Turkey, was awarded the contract for audio, lighting and visual design and installation, with Suat Durkan heading a 20-strong project team. The company has previous experience in the country and was the "perfect fit" for the project, commented Durkan.
A Group addressed the issue of 'invisibility' by recommending Renkus-Heinz digitally beam steerable IC Live arrays to focus tight beams of sound from hidden locations precisely into specific audience areas, with the highest possible level of audio fidelity for both speech and music.
A Group supplied the complete technical design and fit-out including a mechanical stage system and orchestra pit, with a specially designed balustrade, and acoustic towers in front of the loudspeakers. "We had originally planned to install the speakers directly onto the walls," he says, "but the architect did not want to see any technical products. So we designed a system of wooden slots with acoustic cloth, providing 100% audio transmission."
The towers neatly conceal eight Renkus-Heinz IC Live ICL-FR digitally steerable column arrays, each equipped with multi-channel class D digital amplifiers with integral DSP engines controlling every array element with programmable precision, and equipped with RHAON, the Renkus-Heinz Audio Operations Network.
Each ICL-FR delivers 105 dB SPL, with flat output response from 80 Hz to 20 kHz. Extending the low frequency range are four BPS15-2R RHAON-enabled 2x15" self-powered subwoofers and four CF121-5R self-powered RHAON-enabled stage monitors.
Says Durkan: "This Center is of great cultural and architectural significance to the arts in Baku and we are very proud to have made a major contribution to the performance technologies that help make it so special. We provided high quality, high intelligibility sound from sources that cannot be seen by the audience - exactly as the architects and designers required."