A modern masterpiece
A new museum of modern art in northern Italy uses cutting-edge audio and video technology to create a striking urban space. Mike Clark finds out more.
True to the city fathers’ ambitious intent, the northern Italian city of Bolzano now has a new museum of modern and contemporary art that is to all effects a work of art in its own right, thanks to a unique projection system.
The Museion building was designed by Berlin-based architects KSV (Krüger Schuberth Vandreike), who came first among 284 competing entries for the project. They created a building of striking simplicity, with its shimmering aluminium facades clearly visible from the surrounding mountains.
Christian Pieretto of AV contractor and system integrator 3P Technologies explains: “We sat down with KSV to analyse the project and requirements. The main request in the client’s brief was ‘relatively’ simple: transforming the two huge glazed facades of the Museion – one of which points towards the town and the other towards the Talvera riverside promenade – into two surfaces on which various types of projection could be screened.”
During the day, natural light is directed into exhibition areas through motorised translucent louvres on the two facades. At sunset these are closed, transforming them into a huge projection surface, enabling video art to play a key role in the urban space.
KSV architect Markus Reinhardt explains: “The louvres are moved in sections of 10, each with its own motor, which has an IP address and can be controlled via laptop. This enables different ‘scenes’ to be programmed, according to the time of day and the exhibitions hosted.”
Regarding the choice of hardware, Pieretto adds: “The most important decision concerned the projectors, signal transmission and cables. In the former case, the tender indicated projectiondesign projectors. After all the tests had been carried out, the F20 SX+ DLP models were seen to be the most suitable choice, for their specs, their characteristics in terms of luminous uniformity, and their colour wheels.”
All the units (which have a brightness of up to 3,300 ANSI lumens and SXGA+ resolution) have perfectly matched projection, thanks to their RealColor colour management suite. They also feature Texas Instruments’ BrilliantColor technology. Some of the projectors were installed ‘off-axis’, and so had to be able to ensure optimum performance even in this type of installation.
Twenty-three of the 35 lightweight pearl white projectors are fitted with standard (1.0:1) wide-angle lenses; the remaining 12 have ultra-wide angle (0.82:1) lenses. Four to six projectors are installed on each of the four levels of both facades; images are managed by a Dataton Watchout playout system.
Pieretto continues: “Signal transmission and cabling was foreseen in Cat7 and, after considerable assessments and technical tests in-situ, we chose Extron MTP C7 RL 15HD RS SEQ receivers and MTP C7 T 15HD RS transmitters. These are ideal for sending VGA and RS-232 control signals over long distances with a single Cat7 cable. They are compatible with resolutions up to 1920x1200 and support cable runs of 600ft or more with XGA signals, and 450ft or more with UXGA. The independent skew compensation adjustment they provide for each colour is a fundamental aspect that wasn’t included in the original project, which would have led to very poor results.”
The Crestron Ethernet control system is based on two CP2E units, each with three built-in COM ports, eight IR/Serial ports, eight I/O Versiports, eight isolated relays and Ethernet. Operator control is via a TPMC-10 10.4in Active Matrix wireless touchscreen display.
As well as the spectacular projections, a considerable array of technology is also at the disposal of visitors and – in sync with KSV’s concept of great flexibility (the rooms have mobile partition walls to allow the venue to be adapted to event requirements). This includes a considerable amount of portable hardware, such as four Klein+Hummel PAS-100 portable wireless loudspeakers (which can be rapidly moved wherever required and be ready to operate), two AV Stumpfl System Vario mobile projection screens and a series of Sennheiser EW122 G2 and EW135 G2 wireless mics.
Audio equipment is completed by two APart Audio PA2120 mk 2 amps, four Ecler Ambit 106 loudspeakers and a Biamp Nexia CS digital mixer. Video hardware includes an Extron MPS112CS multi-format video switcher and two Kramer VM-20ARII SDI and composite video distributors.
Museion in-house technician Jorg Frasnelli is responsible for operating the AV. He says: “The results obtained with the AV technology are very good and the overall precision of the various technologies almost perfect. The Crestron system considerably facilitated the management and control of the system’s technical systems, which include EIB, Wago and DALI.”
There were a few small but important difficulties to overcome, adds Pieretto: “The most challenging concerned the actual facades, as they weren’t straight, uniform, glazed surfaces, but absolutely irregular, some sloping to one side, others forward. The difficulty was therefore at the moment of installing the projectors, since – using projectors with fixed lenses – it was crucial to find the correct mounting point, inclination, etc, projector by projector, to obtain even coverage of the facades.
“Another problem was of a logistical nature: since installation work was carried out in April and May, we had to wait for darkness before conducting the necessary calibration and tests. Staff on-site worked until late at night for about a month, but the overtime was definitely rewarded by the end results!”
To see more pictures of this stunning installation, please head here.
. APart Audio PA2120 mk 2 amps
. Biamp Nexia CS digital mixer
. Ecler Ambit 106 loudspeakers
. Klein+Hummel PAS-100 portable wireless loudspeakers
. Sennheiser EW122 G2 and EW135 G2 wireless mics
. Crestron Ethernet CP2E control with TPMC-10 10.4in Active Matrix display
. Dataton Watchout playout system
. AV Stumpfl System Vario mobile projection screens
. Extron MPS112CS multi-format video switcher
. Extron MTP C7 RL 15HD RS SEQ receivers and MTP C7 T 15HD RS transmitters
. Kramer VM-20ARII SDI and composite video distributors
. projectiondesign F20 SX+ DLP projectors
Picture: Ludwig Thalheimer