Downtown Dubai’s latest luxury hotel complex, The Address, is laden with tens of thousands of LEDs and an abundance of subtly disguised, yet effective audio technologies. Patrick Elligett reports on how the discreetly designed hotel AV installation is producing maximum impact.
Illuminated at night by a dazzling array of lights, The Address has already cemented a position of note on Dubai’s world-famous skyline. The hotel’s 63 floors boast some of the world’s most advanced AV technologies, deployed in a manner which greatly enhances the venue’s overall presentation.
Considering its attention-grabbing external appearance, created by a swarm of LEDs, the interior design is surprisingly subtle. But while AV technologies remain well-disguised, their impact on the ambience of the hotel is evident.
Even throughout the hotel’s meeting rooms, where an abundance of innovative lighting, projection and audio technology is present, technical equipment is stealthily concealed to avoid disrupting the hotel’s striking aesthetics.
The subtlety of the technology was an aspect of the building’s design that was considered from the project’s conception, according to Madan Kulkarni, director of engineering at The Address.
“The project was well planned from its inception, which is where all the adjustments were made to ensure our AV technology remained discreet,” he reveals.
He says the latest technology was selected to ensure the appearance of AV equipment remained subtle.
“In the 63rd floor Neos Bar, for example, we used fibre optic lights that run down the wall.
“Metal halide light shone from the projector base unit through the prismatic lance helps to create the trickling effect.”
In The Address’ meeting rooms, where the AV setup is most adaptable, in order to cater for a variety of functions, the audio technology resides within the walls of the structure, completely hidden to those within the room.
Controlling everything contained within these meeting rooms, including projections, audio, lighting and even the movement of the curtains and blinds, is a task that can be singularly undertaken using the AMX touch screen control system, which was integrated by Bond Communications.
The seven-inch touch screens are used in wall-mounted and portable versions throughout the hotel. Some function as centralised control units, while each major area requiring AV control, such as bars, restaurants and meeting rooms, have been equipped with remote versions of the system.
“This is part of our strategy to achieve consistency and flow in terms of the interior lighting,” says Kulkarni.
“We have a system whereby any AV adjustments that need to be made are reported to the director of food and beverage, who approves any necessary modifications to the control system.”
Kulkarni says the same AMX AV control system is used in some of the UAE’s best venues, such as Abu Dhabi’s Emirates Palace Hotel.
Although the entire AV installation at The Address is operated via this control system, Kulkarni says: “It is virtually maintenance free for a system so sophisticated. Some work is required to keep the system online at all times, but this is not a very demanding task.”
Sameh Ibrahim, area IT manager at The Address, says the implementation of the control system presented some challenges, as a result of the complexity of the control system network.
“The installation is entirely structured around our AMX network-based solution,” he says.
“We have different switches in the appropriate areas which are all connected to our central core switch, which is then connected to our central server.”
Atmospheric music, appropriate to the different areas of the hotel is also downloaded to the hotel’s central server.
“The software program we use is called Music Styling, which allows us to download music that matches the mood of different areas within the hotel by sorting it into categories,” says Ibrahim.
“We can also manually override these themes to play the music of different artists or adjust the volume,” he adds.
“This can be controlled via various touch-screen stations throughout the hotel, such as the bar and restaurant areas for example, where the staff can control the audio system for particular areas of the hotel if they need to, and make any required adjustments.”
Kulkarni says the AV installation project team selected various audio technologies from an assortment of vendors in order to ensure the best quality for each application.
“We selected the best products from each company,” he says.
“The hotel’s amplification system was supplied by Crown Audio, Tannoy provided the majority of the outside speakers, and we selected Denon-manufactured CD players.”
Other prominent vendors of audio equipment were chosen for varying aspects of the installation, such as BSS Audio, JBL and Extron.
Project organisers were also responsible for selecting a diverse range of lighting fixtures and projection equipment throughout the 63-floor venue.
A selection of 4K, 4.5K and 6K Christie projectors are installed in the venue’s meeting rooms and ballrooms.
While projectors are possibly among the most difficult pieces of AV technology to conceal, high wall mountings and eye-catching nearby lighting techniques keep the equipment well-hidden from the attention of the hotel’s patrons.
One of the interior lighting highlights of the hotel is its constantly changing colour scheme, which is dependent on the time of day and gradually changes with the help of external light sensors.
The hotel’s music system is also programmed to adjust its theme in tandem with the lighting, correlating to produce the desired effect relating to a particular time of day.
Kulkarni says the complete lighting installation for the hotel was implemented by International Electro-Mechanical Services (IEMS), which imported light fittings from various countries such as the US and Germany.
He names the automated interior lighting adaptations, and the time-delayed façade lighting as key highlights of the hotel’s extensive lighting array.
“With the help of Photocell light dependent resistors and the time delay effect, the lighting on the hotel’s façade is gradually powered up over ten minutes,” he explains.
“Because of the high concentration of power there, we can’t just switch on all the lights in one go.
“The façade lighting alone requires three quarters of a megawatt of power to function properly, which is why the hotel’s time delay lighting system is of such high importance.
“The daylight affects our light sensor, which in turn affects the lighting on the inside of the building.”
Despite the thousands of LED fixtures and conventional lights which make up the installation, Kulkarni insists that the environmental impact of the building’s AV infrastructure remains minimal.
“Most of the lighting we use has a very long lifespan, for example, LED, plus all our bulbs are highly energy efficient.”
The hotel’s AV technicians are quick to pay tribute to the contribution of those involved in the various stages of the installation.
Along with the teams from Bond Communications and IEMS, Madan Kulkarni applauds the work of many participants in the installation process.
He says Andre Van Huyssteen, project manager for Mirage; Vijay Pachare, senior electrical engineer for Atkins; Daniel Wood, project manager for CML International; and Alan Mitchell, creative managing director for Neolight Design, all played an important role in the design and implementation process of the hotel’s AV installation.
Few lighting fixtures are visible inside the venue, speakers are concealed within walls in some places and blended with the building in others. Control systems are hidden and even projectors are tucked away from public view.
Ease of control, adaptability and effectiveness remain among the primary objectives for AV project managers, however this hotel provides a shining example of how different AV technologies can be successfully melded together within a discreet, well-concealed installation, and still maintain a powerful effect.
Audio and control kit list for the Neos Bar at The Address Hotel
- BSS Audio BLU-80 DSP signal processor
- BSS Audio dual channel input card
- BSS Audio dual channel output card
- BSS Audio logic Box
- Crown Audio CDI-1000 professional power amplifier
- 4 x Crown Audio CDI-2000 professional power amplifier
- 2 x Crown Audio CDI-4000 professional power amplifier
- 2 x JBL Al-6125 loudspeaker type S
- 4 x JBL 29AV-1 loudspeaker type R
- 3 x JBL AM4212/64 loudspeaker type Q
- 2 x Tannoy CMS-501 loudspeaker type B
- 2 x Tannoy CMS8TDC loudspeaker type D
- Wohler Technologies AMP2A-10S audio monitor
- 2 x Bittree 481 series E3 audio patch panel
- Bittree LPC-110 audio patch cords
- Denon CD changer
- Imerge S-3000 4 channel music server
- Extron Electronics ASA-304 audio summing amplifier
- AMX Master control system
- AMX Control and programming software
- APC Equipment rack
- APC Rack mountable UPS