Outernet London

ProjectOuternet LondonLocationLondon, UKArchitectORMSLighting DesignerOuternetInstallerSolotechAcousticianHoare LeaSubmitted bySolotech

Solotech achieved compelling success with the Outernet project. Firstly, working with both the client, Outernet, and the AV manufacturer, L-Acoustics, it has not only demonstrated a deep understanding of the project scope but has gone on to develop and deliver a solution that has enabled Outernet to fully realise its unique – and truly astonishing – ambition.

Success required exceptional technical skill and creativity, at every stage of the process. From working alongside the architects to ensure that the audio solution was integrated into their thinking, through to product development with L-Acoustics, and ultimately implementing the sound design with their L-ISA system.

Outernet is a unique, cutting-edge venue; visuals dominate the space. However, in order to deliver the immersion that was required, Solotech needed to be extremely creative. It went beyond the basic requirements of the client and fully immersed itself in the project, delivering a technical solution that was tailored to the needs of the space in every way.

It took three years to make Outernet a reality. Throughout this time the scope of the project needed to change to provide a future-proof solution. This required clear leadership, strong project management, effective communication, and clear budgeting. By managing all of these aspects with professionalism and attention to detail, Solotech is proud to have become an integral part of Outernet’s success.

200 speakers were installed across Outernet’s five rooms, with 90 L-Acoustics loudspeakers delivering L-ISA immersive audio in The Now Building alone.
As well as sounding incredible, the technology needed to be discrete. But with such a vast amount of screen space, integrating the audio element was always going to be a challenge.

Working with the architects, ORMS, and Hoare Lea, Solotech and L-Acoustics were able to advance production on a new range of products, building a solution that perfectly integrated into the project’s ambitions. In total 24 X4i were fitted behind a grille at the base of the main screen, with a further 12 hidden in the drainage system of the other three walls.

Another challenge was optimising the low-frequency sound in such a confined space. L-Acoustics SB10 subwoofers, which were specifically designed for the project, were fitted into the concealed gutter channel, provided an elegant, yet subtle solution to that problem.

The biggest challenge facing the audio installation was the structure of the spaces at Outernet. The LED screens that line the Now Building create a giant glass box. To complicate things further, two of the four sides of the screen ‘room’ can be slid aside, transforming the venue from an enclosed room to an indoor/outdoor walkthrough space.

As a result, the acoustical elements had to be carefully planned and programmed to adapt to any of the venue’s many configurations.

Dan Seal, who worked alongside the acoustic consultants, Hoare Lea, L-Acoustics and Auditoria, on the sound system design, explained: “With such a complex architectural structure, it’s important to get L-ISA to ‘know’ what condition the space is in. Ensuring we can work with its multiple configurations acoustically is vital.

“The challenge in all of these spaces was getting consistent shared coverage over the audience to ensure that, no matter where you are in the space, you are immersed in the sound.

“We faced tough design constraints due to the video walls, so the combination of floor-level and transom-level loudspeakers was an effective, elegant solution.”

However, the need for discretion went much further. Outernet is located in central London, amid many residential and business properties. Balancing their sensitivities with the need for optimal visitor immersion was also a critical challenge.

“We need to be considerate neighbours,” noted Mike Whittaker, Outernet.
Such a massive undertaking naturally takes time, which also posed a challenge.

Seal explained: “Because technology moves so quickly in our industry, we found that we needed to change our specifications over the course of the project.
One of the main challenges was adapting the system, identifying, and then accommodating replacements for products that had either become obsolete, or that offered better performance and cost efficiency.’

Not that this was a problem for the client Whittaker who stated that “because Solotech understood what we were trying to do, we were able to work closely together. This enabled us to adapt, and in the end actually managed to reduce the cost of the installation. I think that was a real show of the partnership.”