Period: October 2015
Client: German Gymnasium
Subject: Audio Visual
Originally designed as the first purpose-built gym in England, this Grade II-listed building is conveniently situated in the heart of vibrant King’s Cross. German Gymnasium serves Mittel-European inspired dishes all day long, across two floors and out on its vast heated terraces.
The brief was to install a multi-zone audio system that delivers background music but has the capacity to cater for private events. It was essential the system did not detract from building aesthetics and ensured comfortable and intelligible coverage throughout.
The challenges were that parts of the building are listed meaning we were restricted in terms of speaker placement and it’s an open, 2 storey, highly reverberant space. The client invested in a carefully designed music program so it was essential the audio was commensurate.
The audio design places multiple loudspeakers throughout the building, positioned so that the listener is never far from an audio source. This close proximity delivers intelligibility without any individual speaker being overly loud.
Using architectural and joinery features to disguise speakers and colour matching the paint for more visible locations ensures the system is unobtrusive as briefed. Multiple input points and carving the system into 10 distinct zones allows the client to reconfigure the audio for specific events and to adapt to the ever evolving requirements of the venue.
The elegance is in the simplicity of the design but being creative in the use of the key components to deliver a subtle and even coverage throughout the venue.
In this project we used pretty standard Bose components such as ceiling recessed speakers and subs or Freespace 3 cubes alongside Acoustimass modules in booths. However the main space on the ground floor is essentially a complete open double, height space with a balcony on four sides. We were extremely limited on where we could locate speakers and had a large area to cover. We were able to be creative with the Bose MA12EX Columns mounting them in a continuous horizontal line. This configuration creates lobes of low frequency at either end of the array. Using this we were able to deliver better low-end response to the outer areas that weren’t being served by the other sub speakers on that floor. Also, by orientating the columns horizontally we reduced the pattern control enabling the system to cover a much wider area. This combined with 4 Panaray subs hidden in the central, circular seating unit facing outwards creates an well balanced result throughout the ground floor. By using effects we would normally try to control, to our advantage we were able to create a simple yet innovative solution to a tricky problem.
An SSE Audio Group Project, designed by Emma Bigg whilst SSE’s Installations Director