The Pierre Boulez Saal in the Barenboim-Said Akademie

The object
The Barenboim Said Akademie was founded by Daniel Barenboim in the spirit of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra which unites Palestinian and Israeli musicians and had been created by Barenboim and the now deceased American-Palestinian literary scholar Edward Said in Weimar in 1999. The new music academy is to be a place for teaching up to 100 fellowship students from the countries of the Middle East. The German Foreign Office and the Minister of State for Culture are sponsoring the project while the Barenboim Said Akademie GmbH is the awarding party. Once the landmarked building, meanwhile modernised by hg merz architects, was used by the Berlin State Opera Unter den Linden as a depot for sets and scenery equipment. The Berlin-based rw+ architects were responsible for project schedule, tendering procedure, and site supervision. The academy has got one lecture hall, several seminar rooms, and 21 rehearsal rooms.

The academy's special architectural gem is the concert hall designed by Frank Gehry "pro bono" and named after the French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez who died in 2016. The oval design is characterised by two ellipses the axes of which are offset against each other so as to create the impression that the tiers are floating weightlessly in space. The Japanese sound artist Yasuhisa Toyota is responsible for the acoustics of the hall. The Pierre Boulez Saal is used both as a location where students may practice music performances and as a commercial-purpose concert hall with its own program of musical events, and accommodates an audience of 680. It is an ideal venue for soloists, chamber music, and small orchestras. It is also where the newly founded Boulez Ensemble which consists mainly of members of the Staatskapelle Berlin and of the West-Eastern Divan Orchestra, has found a musical home.

The job
The Pierre Boulez Saal public call for tenders included the media equipment, i.e. the voice alarm components and the speakers for reinforcing the sound in the concert hall, as well as the stage and hall lighting. Having responded to the voice alarm specification prepared by the specialist planner Florian Schaller with a proposal that combined state-of-the-art voice alarm and stage management equipment in an innovative approach, ASC Berlin was awarded the job. Besides ASC had involved the English manufacturer GDS, an expert for customised light and control solutions, to ensure that the high standard set by the architect with respect to the sophisticated lighting equipment was met. Working closely together ASC and GDS succeeded in developing a tailor-made lighting arrangement which is unique worldwide.

The solution
ASC Berlin cooperated with PAV GmbH in installing a fully digital DSM40 voice alarm system certified to DIN VDE 0833-4 which is interconnected with a fire alarm system certified according to ISO DIN 14675. The latter ensures that if there is an emergency, visitors can leave the building in an organised fashion via escape routes which were previously defined. Apart from its principal application it also allows for generating public addresses and background music and offers a great variety of options concerning volume, EQ, delay etc. The intercom system was customised and can be operated via an ADUNAS media control system just like a stage management system can.

Regarding the architectural light (hall lighting) and the scenic light (stage lighting) the experts saw to it that 100 per cent dimming without a starting jolt is ensured. All of the cable routes are discreetly concealed behind the wood panelling, and electromagnetic compatibility (EMC) is ensured by isolating the cables from the AV media equipment. Thus interference is reliably prevented.  

Working together with GDS, ASC designed and installed special structures exactly following the architect's ideas. As the architect wanted the number of lamps in the ceiling to be restricted to a minimum, the light sources are located in an accessible duct (catwalk) above the wooden ceiling.

79 LED profile spotlights from the ETC Source Four product family are used as ceiling lighting directly above the stage. Owing to front-mounted cut-glass sections light emission is flimmer-free so as not to interfere with video and TV recordings and to prevent the acoustics of the room to be affected by operating noise. Attached to armoured-steel conduits the spotlight cables go to a central rack room (this does not include the safety lighting however). From the ceiling the Source Four spotlights can provide beams with angles up to 25 to 30°. Wherever scenic lighting requires warm white light, clear fields of light, high flexibility, and extended service life, these spotlights will do it.

Likewise GDS lights are integrated in the outer circle above the stage, below the tiers, in the corridors, at the doors, and at the steps. The creative GDS product range features a great diversity of luminaires and special structures with specifically developed lamps. Both the hall (or architectural) and the safety luminaires use LED lamps and are manufactured to meet the highest and most advanced standards. Like the scenic lighting they are managed via the ADUNAS media control system.

Owing to the ADUNAS system it is possible to program the scenic lighting specifically involving the lighting system as a whole. It allows for setting up scenes, for storing them as scene automation, and for using interfaces to retrieve them individually. The system also ensures basic facility functions such as the automatic lowering of blackout blinds and the control of third-party components. Each of the ETC spotlights is controllable and hence its inclination angle adjustable individually.

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  • Barenboim_Slider-I_01.jpg

    Barenboim Said Akademie

    The depot building where previously the stage sets used for productions of the Berlin State Opera were stored has undergone extensive modernisation designed by hg merz architects and today hosts the Barenboim Said Akademie in Französische Strasse.

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    Pierre Boulez Saal

    The centerpiece of the Barenboim Said Akademie is the Pierre Boulez Saal designed by Frank Gehry with a seating area construction that consists of two ellipses offset against each other with the effect that it seems to float in space. The acoustics were planned by Yasuhita Toyota.

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    Pierre Boulez Saal

    Except for the safety lighting the ballasts are grouped together in a central rack room where all of the media equipment components are arranged neatly and conveniently for the building services technicians to locate and access.

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    Pierre Boulez Saal

    The ETC Source Four profile spotlights are accommodated in the intermediate ceiling. Glass encasings ensure that operating noises will not interfere with the acoustics of the hall. The ADUNAS system allows for each ETC spotlight to be controlled individually.

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