Arena Pays d’Aix
Auer Weber, Christophe Gulizzi
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Handball arena, Arena Pays d’Aix is located on a freeway intersection in the south west of Aix-en-Provence, France. Although primarily used for sports – being the home venue for Pays d’Aix University handball club, which competes in Division 1 of the Ligue Nationale de Handball – the multiple-purpose venue is capable of hosting a wide range of events. There are a number of different spaces within the arena, including an exhibition room, the concourse and the annex room, as well as the main room – unofficially nicknamed The Cauldron.
The arena was designed by architect firm, Auer Weber, in conjunction with architect, Christophe Gulizzi. The exterior façade is made up of metallic ellipses stacked like layered contours, disguising the front and back of the building, as every side of the façade is treated equally. Only the differently arranged ellipses indicates to the guests where the front of the arena sits – hovering above another, arranged with a much stronger shift towards the forecourt than to the other sides, forming a large canopy to welcome visitors. The structure was constructed by building company, Fayat.
Inside in The Cauldron, Christophe’s vision continues, where a modular format allows the 4000 sq metres of interior space to offer 17 different configurations, depending on the type of event being hosted. It can seat between 6,000 to 8,000 spectators, depending on the layout – and it can be configured to host a wide range of events (aside from handball) including tennis, wrestling, indoor motocross, live concerts, ballet and many more.
The venue’s interior designer, Kanju, commissioned consultants Solus3 to design the audiovisual systems. Solus 3 approached Aix-en-Provence-based systems integrator Société Texen to deliver a solution where flexibility and quality were the most important features.
Texen’s Thomas Goeuriot recommended a Dante-networked Yamaha and NEXO system, which is centred on four ‘nodes’ installed throughout the venue, each comprising a system rack with a MTX5-D matrix processor, XMV Series amplifiers, 24 port switches and, where required, Tio1608-D I/O racks.
All areas apart from The Cauldron feature Yamaha loudspeakers, including VXC5F-VA (voice evacuation model) and NS-IC400 ceiling loudspeakers, VXS1ML and VXS3FT compact surface mount models.
In The Cauldron, 30 NEXO GEO S12 loudspeakers deliver high quality sound to sport and event audiences. Arrayed as 10 flown clusters of three around the edge of the arena floor, they are powered and controlled by NXAMP 4×4 and NXAMP 4×1 amplifiers.
“Many manufacturers approached us to provide the Cauldron system,” said Thomas. “Coverage and intelligibility were really important and NEXO provided the best technical solution. The GEO S12 loudspeakers cover low enough frequencies without needing subwoofers and they provide seamless coverage to every seat.”
Meanwhile, in addition to the installed VXC5F-VA and NS-IC400 ceiling models, the Salle Annex features four CBR15 loudspeakers, driven by P7000 amplifiers, for added audio power and depth for sports training sessions, plenary sessions and other events.
A TF5 digital mixing console was also supplied, which can be plugged into the system for local mixing in any area. The press room features a pair of VXS8 loudspeakers for event monitoring, with the system also providing broadcast I/O.
“Arena Pays d’Aix has the most modern, high quality facilities installed throughout and the audio system is fundamental to delivering the best experience to all users,” said Yamaha’s Pascal Bessenet. “The entire audio system was single-sourced from the Yamaha and NEXO family, delivering not only high quality sound, but exceptional flexibility and reliability. We know these qualities will serve the Arena well for many years to come.”