A luminous and acoustic solution for the Chamber30-09-2022
Housed in the imposing neoclassical Palace of the Nation government building in Brussels, the Belgian House of Representatives has suffered from dreadful acoustics for years. While the chamber is beautiful, it is an extremely challenging environment for speech-oriented applications – lots of hard surfaces and an impressive overhead dome that reflects sound waves back into the centre of the room. The Belgian government launched a public tender to solve this and other issues in the chamber. Amptec was brought in to analyse and resolve the acoustic problems in the Chamber and was also responsible for project management throughout. The goal was to improve speech intelligibility without disturbing the classic character of the building.
Following a detailed 3D measurement and analysis of the entire space, it became clear that whilst acoustic treatment was essential, the architectural limitations meant it wouldn’t be a complete fix; consequently, Amptec offered a two-part solution of acoustic treatment in the first instance reinforced by a new audio system to be delivered by mid-2023. Ampec hosted weekly meetings with technology and integration partner, employees and the Chamber to ensure the project stayed on track.
The acoustic treatment consists of white absorbent panels against the back walls. For the panels on the gallery, Amptec took photos of the marble façade and ordered them as printable Artnovion panels so that they blend seamlessly with the environment.
Solving the reflection problem caused by the dome was harder. Amptec hired Painting With Light to collaborate on the design of acoustic clouds that also incorporate energy-efficient lighting to replace the room’s old, inefficient halogen lighting. The resulting three-storey acoustic cloud structure, chosen to harmonise with the rounded structure of the dome and the chamber itself, is both aesthetic and efficient. Amptec turned to Lux Lumen to design and construct the framework, which was then installed on site by Amptec and Lux Lumen.
Speech intelligibility has improved enormously since the acoustic treatment went in and will improve again once the full audio system - including microphones and signal chain as well as loudspeakers (currently installed but not yet plugged in) - is delivered next summer. Amptec has coordinated this complex project since mid-2021 and will continue to do so until final delivery in mid-2023.
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Painting With Light