Faith Dome

ProjectFaith DomeLocationEast LondonManufacturersd&b, Stage Audio WorksLighting DesignerBad Weather designed, installed by Stage Audio WorksInstallerStage Audio WorksSubmitted byStage Audio Works

The installation took place in a former wool warehouse, which Stage Audio Works (SAW) converted into a combined live event and broadcast area or Faith Broadcasting Network. The primary challenge was delivering a solution which fulfilled both fronts equally, particularly in such a cavernous space – measuring 120 by 60 metres, with an 18-metre-high ceiling. In 2015, work commenced on the ceiling to replace it with the iconic dome, further raising the ceiling height, and complicating the acoustics of the room. There was a need to fulfil the client’s 360° vision, which places the stage and d&b PA system in the centre of the large arena, making it the central focus of the congregation. It was essential that every visitor’s listening experience remained the same. When compared to a standard, front-to-back setup, it is a lot harder to guarantee constancy of high-quality audio in this multi-directional configuration. To this end, SAW used an augmented line array system, combined with numerous infills.

The extreme heigh of the room necessitates a PA system that provides comprehensive vertical coverage. This ruled a traditional line array solution out of the equation, due to budget constraints. Instead, SAW opted for an augmented line array system (A-Series) from d&b, the perfect fit in terms of directivity control, sonic quality and price range. Importantly, the units allow for wider dispersion and variable splay angles, which are invaluable in this situation.

Routing flexibility also aided the situation. Although the auditorium can handle a maximum capacity of 10,500, it’s unlikely that every single seat will be occupied at any one event. In this case, SAW have enabled parts of the system to be able to be easily muted or switched off, keeping the sound focused, and reducing unnecessary reflections. It also allows control of signal output for the band.

Another crucial element of the brief was ensuring that the PA would not impinge on camera sightlines. To achieve this, the system had to be elevated 13m above the floor to where the bottom of the PA is higher than the top of the screens. This was accomplished by hanging equipment from a custom trussing solution, which incorporated two concentric squares and an outer rectangle.

This project should win this award due to the innovative nature of the solution. The arena style, 360° setup meant that it differed from many other House of Worship installations which are generally more linear in their composition.

SAW proposed a system which completely fulfilled the client’s technically challenging brief, whilst remaining in budget. Significantly, this installation utilised cutting-edge audio technology, marking the first d&b A-Series installation in Africa. Combined with flexible audio routing, they delivered a solution which satisfied the client’s broadcast and live event requirements, whilst delivering high-quality audio to both the audience and performers.

The custom trussing provided the groundwork for the project. Manufactured by SAW under license to the Total Solutions Group, the OV truss offers sleek, lightweight, modular solutions. By hanging the audio and visual equipment from these elevated trusses, SAW was able to navigate the broadcast camera’s sight lines and achieve the optimum dispersion angle for the loudspeakers.

SAW was responsible for the integration of lighting system designed by Cape Town-based creative production company, Bad Weather. A sophisticated Cameo solution illuminates the main arena, supported by interspersed Zenit floodlights. For control, SAW opted for an ETC Hog 4 Console due to the large-scale nature of the project, beloved by programmers for its intuitive interface. This allows Faith Broadcasting Network employees to operate the equipment with little to know training.