Very large scale (> 750 channel) networked audio infrastructure and program content for the Dubai Creek Harbour (DCH) Tower, a 1 km-tall public building and surrounding 20 hectare plaza (Billings Jackson Design / Santiago Calatrava Architects, 2016– ).
Audio is distributed via a Dante network to multiple loudspeakers, from line arrays and full-range compact speakers to highly directional ultrasonicaly-focussed transducers and large subwoofers integrated into seating. Additional language-specific content is delivered via the electronic guide device assigned to each visitor. The program material includes:
• the abstract and dramaturgic, e.g. calming sounds for the security zones, a grounding foundational subbass in the lift lobby prior to ascent, compressive atmospheres to build excitement before a flight in the rotating, glass-bottomed balconies 800m above the desert,
• narratives, including. a sonic history of the tower’s construction during the lift ascent, and a celebration of the Golden Age of Islam – from landscape design to mathematics – delivered around the sky garden, an arboretum at the top of the tower, and
• the highly localised: directional speakers deliver sounds specific to particular windows in the observation galleries, connecting visitors to the view immediately before them, and including live audio feeds from the wildlife sanctuary, Dubai Old Town, etc.
While the regular audio program is broadcast from servers in the building, the networked infrastructure allows for multiple input feeds – e.g., from the outoor amphitheatre, or an impromptu stage rigged in the observation decks – and the recording and distribution of local performances and concerts to zones across the site, and beyond. Multichannel input/output convertors are located close to the public spaces they serve, opening up possibilities for different forms of performance from intimate solo recitals to large scale, interactive sound art. Per-zone and per-loudspeaker control and programming can be directed from a laptop anywhere in the world.
The height of the building, the narrow voids in the tower, and expanse of the plaza necessitate networking over optical fibre. The choice and location of network switches, amplifiers and speakers are likewise highly constrained by availability of power, requirements of heat disspiation and weather protection, the immense size of the many of the spaces and the reflectivity of the hard marble surfaces everywhere.
DCH Tower is currently under construction.