Kwetu Nairobi, Curio Collection by Hilton

ProjectKwetu Nairobi, Curio Collection by HiltonLocationNairobi, KenyaManufacturersFunktion-OneArchitectHilton Architecture, Design & Construction | EMEAInstallerAudio Feed, UKAcousticianHilton Architecture, Design & Construction | EMEASubmitted byFunktion-One

Kwetu Nairobi, Curio Collection by Hilton provides a perfect fusion of old historic charm and modern contemporary design, with a blend of comfort and luxury. Nestled in the centre of the Nairobi upper class embassy district, close to a protected Karura forest home to wildlife and many bird species, the main aim was to reduce the sound dispersion and reduce the environmental impact to these areas while delivering high fidelity audio to the hotel’s patrons.

The hotel consists of five individual, interconnected blocks, each containing 20 rooms of varying sizes, themes, and designs and all overlooking the peaceful forested landscape. Guests can relax by the serene poolside, indulge in a spa treatment, or enjoy a wide range of cuisines from one of the multiple restaurants.

Audio Feed working closely with local partner Frontier Audio installed Funktion-One sound systems in the key areas of the hotel complex. This included F101.2s and MB212s in the rooftop lounge, F81.2s in the conservatory, F1201.2s in the outdoor oasis, Evo 6SHs and BR118s for the pool deck, F55s around the pool bar and surrounding areas, with additional Funktion-One Compact Range speakers used around the venue. MC2 amplification was specified throughout. In total there are 30 inputs and 20 zones.

Some of the major technical challenges Audio Feed (working in collaboration with local partner Frontier Audio) faced during this project:

They were hired halfway through the project, as it became clear that the previous supplier was unable to deliver the technical requirements requested: high fidelity audio with minimal propagation offsite. This meant beginning on the back foot and installing many areas that were near completion. The install team had to toil to get our cables through trays and conduiting that were almost at their maximum capacity.

Operating in a third world country created some unique challenges. The electrical installation and health and safety standards were often woefully inadequate. Audio Feed and Frontier Audio were determined to work safely and meet UK standards onsite, however, this was severely tested.

Flooding from rains, lack of equipment readily available spares meant planning well in advance for any occurrences that may have impacted the schedule.

There were some major changes along the way. For example, whole corridors and additional requirements for the spaces such as a spa and gym were implemented halfway through the build meaning doing several runs of cabling through completed walls to achieve the client’s requirements.

As this project was in East Africa, spare parts are not readily available. Audio Feed shipped out spare amplifiers, spare network switches and spare zone control items. Two days before opening, there was a critical zoning component failure, resulting in some serious improvisation to get the system up and running until a replacement part arrived in Kenya two weeks later.

The project ending up being 12 months later than originally planned, due to ongoing construction issues, meaning safe storage had to be found for the equipment for that period.

This project represents a triumph of collaboration and championing of talent and expertise in a developing market.

In December 2016, Federico Pirzio-Biroli and Audio Feed’s Oz Jefferies landed in Kenya for the Kilifi New Year’s Eve festival armed with a Funktion-One sound system and a passion for sharing high-quality audio with others. Through Pirzio-Biroli’s philanthropy and Jefferies’ technical expertise, Audio Sans Frontieres was born.

The goal was to take world class sound systems to places that potentially don’t have easy access to them.

After providing the sound system for the New Year event, Pirzio-Biroli and Jefferies decided to keep it in Kenya, and set up Audio Sans Frontieres to manage the system and its African projects. This led to a commercial arm – Frontier Audio – being established in 2018. The company now has three full time employees.

This project showcases the benefits of the collaboration while strengthening the local expertise. Generally speaking, East Africa lacks expertise for large scale audio over network systems. While delivering this project, Audio Feed engineers from the UK provided training to increase the expertise of the African work force, and this training will continue. All post installation work and training is being carried out remotely with Frontier Audio being the support on the ground.

The outcome is experienced Funktion-One users in Kenya, who had active roles in the installation and ongoing support.