At Expo Milano 2015 in Italy, the UK Pavilion uses a concealed, multi-zone Meyer Sound system with IntelligentDC™ technology to deliver an immersive experience for visitors. Aligning with the Expo’s “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life” theme, the Pavilion emphasizes the role of pollination in our food supply with a meadow and 14-meter high, aluminum beehive delivering a three-dimensional surround mix of music, nature, and bee sounds.
“The quality of Meyer Sound products assures that I can place my full confidence in their performance,” says Mike Bedford, audio system designer for the Pavilion and principal at Hoare Lea Acoustics of London. “Certainly the unobtrusive MM-4XP loudspeaker is a good architectural fit for the hive and the meadow, but even more important is the quality of the sound and the dynamics it can produce. It excels at quiet, intricate sounds, yet it can also handle loud, high impact sounds.”
Conceived and designed by Nottingham-based artist and sculptor Wolfgang Buttress, the hive features audio effects delivered by 18 MM-4XP self-powered loudspeakers and six MM-10XP subwoofers. Two UP-4XP and 12 MM-4XP loudspeakers and two MM-10XP subwoofers create audio zones at the front entrance and throughout the meadow, delivering a constantly shifting palette of musically enhanced, natural meadow and bee sounds that lead visitors to the culminating experience of the hive. A small conference centre apart from the hive houses two UP-4XP loudspeakers and one MM-10XP subwoofer.
“The MM-10XPs provide a low-frequency sound bed which emanates from the Hive, a hum that is produced from recorded cello, tuned for physical impact,” explains Bedford. “The vertically spaced rings of MM-4XPs reproduce a dynamic mix of bee sounds, all interwoven with original music components that together move around the space, immersing the listener.”
All loudspeakers employ IntelligentDC technology, which combines the performance advantages of self-powered loudspeakers with the installation efficiency of Class 2 wiring. A single, five-conductor cable carries remote power and balanced audio signal to the loudspeakers from a rack-mount power supply and signal distribution unit. In many countries, electrical conduit is not required.
The UK Pavilion has proven one of the most popular of Expo Milano. Buttress singles out the soundscape as a major contributing factor in realizing the full potential of his concept. “Sound is one of the main tools of the Pavilion’s storytelling, and I was gratified by the results,” he reports. “The Meyer Sound system specified by Hoare Lea certainly exceeded my expectations of what was possible.”
Also working on the soundscape under Buttress’s guidance were audio programmer Robin Whittaker and composers Tony Foster and Kevin Bates.
For the structure of the Pavilion, Buttress collaborated with Simmonds Studio engineering and the architectural firm BDP. Manufacture and production was by Stage One, with graphic design and animation concepts by Squint/Opera. Dr. Martin Bencsik, a leading authority on bee behavior, served as scientific and creative consultant.