With a total project value of $83 million and an estimated seven million visitors expected, the Australian Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo 2010 marks the country's largest commitment to a World Expo.
Under the design direction of think!OTS (TOTS) the creative team was tasked with conceiving an infrastructure combining dynamic design with natural imagery. In collaboration with TOTS, Wood Marsh provided the architectural services that led to a unique shape: that was then constructed by TOTS' partner in the project, Bovis Lend Lease.
TOTS contracted Paul van der Ent from Wizard Projects in Australia to be the executive technical director. Anthony Russo, technical director for the Technical Audio Group (TAG), was in turn approached by Wizard to provide a 'no-compromise' audio solution for the pavilion.
The design required provision for hundreds of inputs and outputs and a large number of amplifier channels and speakers. For most of his components Russo needed to look no further than the catalogue of QSC loudspeaker, amplification and processing tools.
Each exhibit is designed to give visitors an understanding of the size and scope of Australia's culture. The Australian experience begins when visitors enter the 'Journey' (Act 1) section, via a 160m enclosed tubular ramp. Here five separate exhibitions showcase Australian history.
After passing through 'Journey' the visitor enters Act 2 to 'Discover' which presents a spectacularly-advanced nine-minute-long audio-visual show. The final section guides visitors in to 'Enjoy' (Act 3), which promotes Australian culture in a three-storey covered atrium, with winding spirals of the official flowers from each of Australia's eight states contained within large mesh pods that hang from the ceiling.
In terms of the mammoth audio requirement, Tony Russo said, "Once I had realised the enormous scope of the pavilion and the multitude of I/O's - it could only come down to one choice: QSC Audio."
He settled on QSC's BASIS product range which would give him sufficient horse-power for the DSP and allow him to spread his redundancy amongst dozens of units. It would also mean he could monitor amplifier states and load monitor all speakers in the system.
The system receives over 144 inputs from multi-track audio players and distributes via 288 outputs - all based on BASIS's drag and drop architecture.
In total the system has 18 BASIS 922's running site wide - all networked via TCP/IP running CobraNet and operating under the master control of an AMX system.
The system comprises over 80 QSC Audio CX Series multichannel amplifiers - both in low impedance and 70V versions. BASIS provides all the management for the amplifiers such as switching, temperature control and volumes.
Of the 40m length of the Hall only 18m required high level sound so that ticketing and food serveries could operate without intrusion.
Using QSC's prediction software Russo selected 12 x QSC ILA WideLine 2082 line array boxes and WL118 flying subs as the main system - the choice based on compact footprint, SPL capability and extremely wide dispersion of 140°.
Elsewhere, multiples of QSC AD-S52T became the ceiling speaker of choice through the Pavilion - chosen for its "excellent frequency response and consistent off-axis performance".
The main theme for the ANZ Theatre (Act 2) area centres on the 1,000-seat, 360° theatre, based on six 5m high screens, addressed by seven HD video projectors, that revolve, rise and fall.
The system design here is based on a 360°/six-hang QSC Audio ILA 2082 WideLine line array and four WL118 flying subs. In total 34 FOH elements provide the main sound play back, with 15 QSC AD-S82H spaced equally round the rear supporting the sound effects and 12 AD-S82H providing audience front row fill. ILA's 140° dispersion pattern again provided seamless audience coverage.
For the separate VIP area (pictured), Anthony Russo took a different approach entirely. The brief included a requirement for the highest gain before feedback during lectern presentations (and lapel mic use only)! When in entertainment mode the system was required to cope with live performance ranging from singers to five piece bands.
The room measures 25 metres long but only 10 metres wide, allowing events to be set up in either portrait or landscape format.
Russo's inspection of the brief pointed to only one product that could fulfill the criteria - Martin Audio's OmniLine micro-array system.
"This speaker is so unique in so many ways," he observes, "the form factor, the modern appearance, the wide dispersion - but more importantly the sound quality. There is nothing around that is this small, but which can produce the SPL that OmniLine can."
The VIP system in Shanghai features four drops of eight elements each (with the individual hangs separately powered and processed). Sub bass is provided by two Martin Audio AQ212 architectural speakers which can be connected when required.
"The beauty of OmniLine is that the cut off point is a genuine 75Hz," continues Russo. "Therefore that dislocated sub-to-satellite sound that I hate in other systems is non-existent. In fact for most events the AV staff don't even connect the subs." Using Martin Audio's predictive software determined the splay angles and equalisation required.
The difference, Russo explains, is that "the real design has already been done in the actual box. The 'engine' is perfect - no cheating with countless EQ's, and typical of a Martin Audio product."
Russo says he chose to provide two completely separate systems so that the room could be quickly reset at a moment's notice. And the move has certainly paid dividends.
"I am extremely proud of the VIP area - and the comments from all involved has been astonishing."
In summary he states that this has been the most intensive project that he has worked on in 35 years. "The ability to take a complex brief and deliver a reliable, flexible and excellent sounding installation is the reason The Australian Pavilion has been voted one of the 'must see' countries at Expo 2010.