Astana, Kazakhstan | June, 2014 - Designated as the country's official capital in 1997, Astana is Kazakhstan's second largest city, and the world's second coldest capital. Despite its less than balmy climes, Astana has experienced a boom in development in recent years, with millions invested in parks, government buildings, and cultural centers.
One of the most impressive of the city's newest structures is Astana State Auditorium, a striking structure designed by renowned architects Studio Nicoletti that has been labeled the "Flower of the Steppe" for its petal-like walls that enclose an indoor plaza that is home to restaurants, shops, exhibition halls, two cinemas, and a 3500 seat auditorium that is one of the largest of its kind in the world.
The auditorium's interior is as dramatic as the building itself. The room's unique fan shaped wood ceiling panels create a flexible acoustic signature that can accommodate a wide variety of events, from classical music to rock, pop, cinema, and spoken word. As Alessandro Baroni of A&T Media explains, the project was not without its challenges.
"The most important consideration was to achieve a consistent sound coverage across the entire auditorium," says Baroni. "It's a very unique design, with multiple levels of seating and an upper balcony that wraps around behind the stage area. The sound system needed to be flexible to adapt to a wide range of performnce material and a wide range of seating configurations."
The system comprises a main array of 16 Renkus-Heinz PN102LR line array loudspeakers, along with a secondary array of five more PN102LR boxes to cover the upper balcony behind the stage. A center cluster of nine PN212 subwoofers provides ample low frequency reinforcement, and four ST9 cabinets cover lateral fill. The very front rows are covered by seven SGGX42 boxes mounted on the lip of the stage. For even more versatility, the main array can be hoisted up into the ceiling when not in use, and a second complete system comprising 12 IC Live ICL-R digitally steered column arrays on custom brackets can be put into play.
"The Renkus-Heinz systems were a good choice for this project, because the beam steering and built in DSP enabled us to configure the system to cover all the seating, at multiple levels and locations," Baroni concludes.
A pair of Yamaha M7CL-48 consoles are installed at Front of House and stageside Monitor positions. And four Symetrix Solus 8 units handle system DSP. Everything is connected via a network of Ethersound, RHAON, and CobraNet.
Video is equally versatile, implementing a dual stack of two Christie Roadie HD+30K DLP projectors for an exceptionally brilliant and high definition picture. "We ran into several challenges," Baroni reports. "We had too much heat buildup in the rack with two projectors, so we had to work out how to insulate the rack to keep it cool and keep the fan noise down. And we had to design a mounting system that was steady enough to hold the machines so the two images would stay perfectly aligned, pixel-by-pixel, to not lose image quality and definition." Four Sony BRC3000 HD cams cover the room, with a Panasonic AV-hs400 video console at the helm. There's even an interpretation system that can provide subtitles in eight different languages.
Not surprisingly, the project also included some logistical challenges. "Of course, it was a challenge to be working in Astana, 6000 km (3700 miles) away from our headquarters in Italy," says Baroni. "And the winter climate was very severe. And with such a big project, the scheduling and coordinating of different phases and crews is always a bit difficult. But we worked it all out in the end, and the result is nothing short of fantastic."