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November/December 2017

Key Points „ Lighting systems have been transformed by the move to wireless and LED sources „ The difficulty with sound solutions is finding the balance between small to preserve the aesthetics and big for optimal audio performance

Risk and reward

„ It’s crucial to understand that most installation methods used in other environments will not be permitted in heritage buildings

Heritage and listed buildings are some of the most challenging environments for audio and lighting installs, so how do manufacturers and integrators navigate these tricky waters, asks Duncan Proctor?


orking on heritage buildings leaves next to no margin for error; while these projects can be high on prestige, mistakes could result in damage to an historic structure that cannot be rectified. However, while these esteemed structures are often those most in need of audio and lighting help, their age can result in difficult working conditions and their listed status may make obtaining approval for alterations laborious. When modifying the acoustic properties of a space is not feasible, it falls to integrators and manufacturers to combat the numerous challenges presented on such projects. This means that solutions must be designed and installed more creatively, and technology has to continue to evolve in both performance and form factor. The limitations of heritage buildings mean that installed solutions often reflect a balance between performance and aesthetics, as the make-up of buildings may not support the integrator’s first choice of lighting or audio systems.

Challenges In addition to the challenges that arise from an integrator not being able to choose their preferred

solution, integrators are also not able to install systems in the way they would normally like, as certain practices are off limits in heritage sites. “Possibly the biggest challenge is trying to take historic buildings and modernise them with the very latest technology without losing the essence of what makes the building special,” says Jonjo Glynn, White Light’s venues director.

‘You need to ensure that you use the right technology with minimum footprint’ Jonjo Glynn, White Light

“The main challenge of installing lighting equipment in heritage sites is ensuring that the aesthetic of the building remains unchanged,” comments Sam Woodward, customer education leader, Europe and Africa at Lutron Electronics. “For sites, such as St Paul’s Cathedral, lighting and lighting control systems also need remarkable flexibility for a range of uses – not

only providing lighting for the general public – such as special events and state occasions, but also security, cleaning and maintenance.” A common problem with audio systems stems from the acoustic properties of the structures as they are not always sympathetic to the standards expected of modern audio. As these acoustic properties are built into the venue and cannot be changed, the solutions specified must compensate. Daniele Mochi, product specialist at K-array, comments: “We are constantly challenged with providing optimal sound and coverage for spaces with architectural design elements such as long hallowed halls, high ceilings and lack of specific acoustic treatment that aren’t conducive to clear audio and even dispersion, as these features tend to abruptly reflect sound.” Installing audio equipment tends to involve drilling, wiring, and mounting or suspending large items from the walls or ceiling. “All of these activities are generally prohibited or discouraged in historic buildings, so integrators have to get very creative,” says Jim Mobley, Renkus-Heinz technical sales manager. Glynn adds: “In an ideal world, we’d love to run cables between walls and be able to really

Installation November/December 2017 Digital Edition  

AV integration in a networked world