Rhyality Immersive Art Hall

ProjectRhyality Immersive Art HallLocationNeuhausen am Rheinfall, SwitzerlandArchitectJulian Tschanen, Dost Architektur GmbHLighting DesignerStudio Devon Miles LLC, GermanyInstallerBild+TonAcousticianWSDG, SwitzerlandSubmitted byWSDG (Walters-Storyk Design Group)

Located in northern Switzerland, the Rhine Falls is the most powerful waterfall in Europe and attracts thousands of visitors each year who come to take in its natural beauty. The Rhyality Immersive Art Hall, located directly above the falls inside a redeveloped industrial complex, is Switzerland’s first fully immersive venue with seamless projection that covers all Walls, floor and ceiling that seeks to share this experience year-round in a new way by offering a unique, fully immersive journey that dramatically showcases the sights and sounds of the falls using the latest in 360-degree audio and video technology to bring the experience to life.

The project was initiated by Hanspeter Weder, Philanthropist and visionary business entrepreneur, who brought respected architecture firm Dost Architektur GmbH into the project to realise their vision for the complex. Seeing the opportunity to bring together a diverse team of experts to get the job done, Dost Architektur GmbH called upon regular collaborators WSDG (Walters-Storyk Design Group) to bring acoustics and systems design expertise to the project.

WSDG’s expertise in room acoustics and electroacoustics engineering ensured the audio systems were not just technically advanced, but also seamlessly integrated into the architectural space. The Rhyality Immersive Art Hall project also marked the first time WSDG utilised Holophonix technology to produce an immersive experience. The Holophonix approach was cost efficient, especially considering the availability of 128 audio channels in the output section (Dante format).

Furthermore, Holophonix is part of Amadeus Audio, a French loudspeaker manufacturer, and therefore was able to deliver a tailor-made system from start to finish, with direct support given through Holophonix (Paris), including many software updates, as well as the local Swiss distributor of Amadeus Audio.

The installation included 98 loudspeakers, strategically placed for immersive audio throughout the venue. The loudspeakers, designed with a coaxial configuration, provide an accurate and wide off-axis response, enhancing the visual experience created using 28 video projectors that illuminate areas of the immersive space with moving images.

The installation process by Swiss AV installer Bild+Ton was instrumental in achieving optimal acoustics and seamless integration with the venue’s architecture.

Bild+Ton installed 28 individually controlled video projectors that offer 360-degree projection (ceiling, walls and floor) illuminating the areas of the immersive space with moving images and allowing the visitors to completely immerse themselves in the cinematic action.

The first film production shows the 30-minute video depicting Rhine Falls through the seasons in moving nature shots and artistic animations. Countless time-lapse camera images, interwoven into an impressive film, allow viewers to marvel at natural moods and the transitions of the seasons from golden autumn to spring awakening to summer fireworks over the Rhine Falls.
This work of art is interspersed with a sound carpet of thundering waves and the immediate surroundings – accompanied by musical contributions from local artists.

While the film moves across the screens, the guests are acoustically immersed in the world of the Rhine Falls – the buzzing of insects, lyrical works and choral voices can be heard. The “Rhine Falls in 4 Seasons” is an invitation to young and old to immerse themselves in the natural spectacle of the Rhine Falls and its surroundings at close quarters.

The projection system is being updated constantly and the latest in cutting edge hardware is added to keep the venue one notch ahead of the competition. the integration of 4K live video inputs from external sources over NDI with very low latency and the implementation of the realtime 3D compositing software Unreal Engine are a worlds first in regards of immersive projection venues.

The basis of the visitor experience at Rhyality is the 200-person main hall that showcases the immersive art hall’s visual works, including its flagship Rhine Falls in 4 Seasons piece that depicts a year in the life of the falls, staged through a blended presentation of video compositions, music, field recordings, and narration.

Designing an intuitive visitor experience that would fit inside the existing halls of the complex was of primary concern for the Dost project managers, as the existing space was something of a blank canvas that had to be prepared for a completely 360-degree visitor experience. This required a multidisciplinary approach to create the correct atmosphere that would also have an obvious flow for visitors coming in to experience it.

To tackle the task of room acoustics and electroacoustics engineering, Dost turned to WSDG, who were tasked with designing the perfect acoustic environment without the projection screens on the walls causing unwanted reflections that would disrupt the experience.

To solve this problem, the WSDG team recommended a special theatrical fabric manufactured by Gerriets. The advantage of this fabric is that it is suitable for projection, but is also acoustically transparent, meaning it can be used for both purposes without the absorption treatment or loudspeakers being visible to visitors.

The loudspeaker layout for Rhyality was created in partnership with Holophonix and utilises 98 cabinets in total for a fully immersive audio experience. Two layers, one at 1.2m and the second at a height of 3.2m, are positioned behind the fabric plus the ceiling loudspeakers for a third height level.

All loudspeakers feature a coaxial design to allow an accurate and unusually wide off-axis response. Due to the Dante backbone, as well as the acoustically transparent projection screens, the addition of further loudspeakers can be easily achieved when required.

The heart of the audio system is the Holophonix processor, capable of handling up to 128 playback channels and employing advanced immersive algorithms such as Wave Field Synthesis (WFS) and Ambisonics. This processor, combined with a powerful multichannel algorithmic reverberation engine, ensures precise audio localisation and a rich auditory environment.

The Rhyality Immersive Art Hall sets a high standard for immersive storytelling and cultural experience, featuring an innovative approach to showcasing natural wonders through immersive technology.
all hardware components are installed in a way that makes them almost invisible, nothing interferes with the viewing experience.

The collaboration between Dost Architektur GmbH, WSDG, Bild+Ton and other partners demonstrates the power of interdisciplinary teamwork in creating impactful experiences.

The use of cutting-edge audio and video technology, combined with creative design solutions, has resulted in a space that not only educates and entertains but also inspires visitors to connect with nature in a profound way.

Additionally, the seamless integration of audio and video systems, despite the challenges of designing acoustically sound spaces with projection screens, showcases the technical expertise and attention to detail of the project team. This attention to detail enhances the overall visitor experience and sets Rhyality apart as one of the leading immersive venues.

Rhyality’s evolution from a temporary space to a permanent, multipurpose venue is a testament to its versatility and wide range of possibilities. Under the curation of art director Devon Miles, the venue has expanded its offerings to include other immersive video presentations and has become a flexible and unique events hall, catering to diverse programming needs.

Overall, the success of Rhyality as a popular destination and events hall further shows the effectiveness of the immersive experience in engaging audiences.