Innovative acoustic solution shines a new light in the Belgian Chamber of Representatives

De Kamer, La Chambre

01-09-2022 / Live / Corporate / Acoustics /

The eighteenth-century neoclassical Palace of the Nation in Brussels is home to Belgian democracy. Housed in the imposing building, the Chamber of Representatives always been an extremely challenging environment for speech-oriented applications.

As technology evolves, the Belgian government launched a public tender to solve this and other issues. Democracy today calls for state-of-art broadcast equipment in a space where one is understood. After the tender got awarded, Amptec was selected as the partner to analyse and resolve the acoustic problems in the Chamber. The company saw opportunities for improvement in four key areas: room acoustics, microphones, signal chain and the loudspeaker system.

Amptec, who coordinated the project throughout, selected several partners to work with them – namely Painting with Light, Lux Lumen, Stapotech and IRRI - hosting weekly meetings with all the stakeholders to ensure the project stayed on track.

Amptec acstx
To visualise the large and complicated space, Amptec acstx’ engineers performed a detailed 3D measurement. Simulations and acoustic analysis, including reverberation time and STI values, led the team to the big next step.

Our extensive study confirmed our suspicions. Lots of hard surfaces and an impressive overhead dome generate unwanted reflections, making it difficult for politicians to hear and be heard. It rapidly became clear that the acoustic treatment near the glass-topped dome was the biggest challenge, but also the most efficient part of the solution.

To achieve a reliable acoustic result, Amptec recommended to mount loudspeakers and acoustic material under the overhead dome. Therefore the old halogen lighting had to be removed.

The remainder of the acoustic treatment consists of absorbent Artnovion panels against the back walls and on the front of the gallery. To ensure that panels on the gallery blend seamlessly with the environment, Amptec took photos of the marble façade and ordered them as printable panels, rendering them virtually invisible. Maintaining the classic character of the building was an important factor in the process.

Although replacing the lights was not part of the initial assignment, there was no other way. Painting With Light was commissioned by Amptec to collaborate on the study and design of a new lighting system integrated into the dome’s acoustic solution. Within a defined framework of all acoustic requirements, the specialist in visual experiences returned with a surprising design, suitable for all stakeholders.

The resulting three-storey structure, flown from the dome harmonizes with the circular structure of the space it occupies. Amptec mounted five d&b audiotechnik V7P loudspeakers in the structure to provide sound reinforcement for the chamber.

Amptec appointed Lux Lumen to design the framework and uplighters, which was installed on site by the two companies. The acoustic clouds of the lower tier contain energy-efficient LEDs for general lighting and illuminating the clouds above. The two upper tiers contain uplighters to illuminate the clouds and ceiling. PWL also replaced the lights in the side of the dome with energy efficient LEDs to mimic natural sunlight. The new lighting meets the requirements for TV broadcasting as well as modern soft light standards for illuminating architecture.

What’s next?
Amptec selected premium partners and successfully coordinated the entire project. Now the new parliamentary year has started, plans are being drawn up for the next steps including the replacement of all microphones, the modernisation of the old mixing desk and the further renewal of the loudspeakers.

Speech intelligibility has already improved since the acoustic treatment was implemented and will improve more once the full audio system is integrated next summer.

Partners in this project

Amptec acstx
Amptec connx
d&b audiotechnik

In collaboration with :
Painting With Light
Lux Lumen
Nys Metaalbedrijf
Ingenieursbureau IRRI

De Kamer, La Chambre
Wetstraat 10
1000 Brussel