Oxford, UK – May 2016… As one of the world’s most famous seats of learning, England’s Oxford University is renowned for delivering the highest standards of education. But following the opening of two Harvard-style lecture theaters within the University’s Blavatnik School of Government, Renkus-Heinz Iconyx digitally steered array loudspeakers are relied upon to ensure classes are always understood.
Opened in September 2012 and originally based across three temporary sites, the Blavatnik School of Government is named for its benefactor, philanthropist Leonard Blavatnik, a Russian-born US citizen now based in the UK. Courtesy of a £75million donation, the school is now housed in its own permanent home, designed by award-winning architects Herzog and de Meuron. Located in the heart of historic Oxford, the building has been designed to deliver minimal environmental impact while offering flexible, contemporary teaching spaces – including the two lecture theaters. Its challenge is to help create the next generation of political thinkers.
But while the design of both theaters – a horseshoe configuration reflecting the style of Harvard University – brings students and lecturers closer together, it created a challenge all of its own – understanding the lectures. The combination of a curved rear wall, metal-framed ceilings and wooden floors all served to create the kind of reverberation that can confuse even the brightest mind.
Now, pairs of Renkus-Heinz Iconyx IC-8-RII digitally steered array loudspeakers serve each theater, having been discretely installed into recesses at either side of the lecturer’s podium. Custom painted color-matched enclosures guarantee that the speakers go unnoticed, even as they make certain that hard, reflective surfaces are avoided and that every lecture is delivered with flawless intelligibility.
UK-based Renkus-Heinz distributor POLARaudio was brought into the project by consultant Hewshott International, while UK-based systems integrator Snelling Business Systems conducting the installation.
“Our experiences of installing Iconyx into some very acoustically challenging heritage sites left us in no doubt that it was the ideal solution for the school,” explained Stuart Leader, Installation Manager at POLARaudio. “Although it’s a brand new, state-of-the-art building and the lecture theatres met every environmental and educational requirement, the nature of their design meant that they were significantly acoustically compromised. The Iconyx speakers overcame the potential pitfalls to the great satisfaction of the client. Given that communication sits at the heart of the Blavatnik global vision, Iconyx is playing its own part in that respect by delivering audio clarity in a crucial area of the school’s function.”
“The School is very impressed with the qualities of the Iconyx speakers,” adds Steve Royans, Sales Manager of Snelling Business Systems. “They offer a clarity that is absolutely essential in this multi-faceted academic environment and achieve this in spite of the acoustic challenges presented by the rooms.”