Focusing on the key themes of Arts, Social Enterprise, Community Support / Development and Pathways To Employment, the organisation has moved from being predominately a provider of hostels for homeless people to be at the cutting edge of tackling social disadvantage through social enterprise and innovation.
Three of the Novas Scarman Group’s four CUCs are located in London, but it is the 170,000 ft2, Grade II listed converted warehouse in Liverpool, which grabbed the headlines on its opening in the summer of 2008.
“Novas Scarman was adamant that induction loops were to be used for the assistive listening facilities,” says Karl Formstone of Stage Electrics, who managed the installation.
“Because the charity’s whole philosophy is about inclusion, they didn’t want anyone to be easily identifiable as having a disability, so a loop system was the obvious choice. Handing out the individual units required for use with an infra red system immediately makes a user identifiable, whereas the user’s normal hearing aid is all that’s required to benefit from induction loops.”
Together with Stage Electrics colleagues Rob Beamer and Peter Coleman, Karl worked closely with engineers at Ampetronic, who conducted site visits and designed the loop systems for the four areas at CUC North West - the Wake Theatre, Venue 2, Cinema and Bird Theatre.
The Wake Theatre and Venue 2 installations were particularly challenging as, not only are the spaces adjacent to each other, but an electrical substation is located in Venue 2.
“Spill was a consideration due to the close proximity of the rooms, but the substation provided an even bigger challenge because it is a massive induction device - with the consequent problems of interference to the induction loop system,” says Karl.
Matters were complicated further by the Wake Theatre featuring retractable bleacher seating and the concrete floor having been laid before installation of the induction loop could be undertaken.
To combat potential spill and interference from the substation, Venue 2 had a twin-loop, low spill array installed, powered by two ILD1000G loop amplifiers with an SP5 phase shift metal loss corrector, while the Wake Theatre had no less than six loops installed, formatted as three low-spill arrays, each powered by an ILD500 with an SP5 - one on the main floor of the space, one within the retractable seating and the third in the floor beneath it for when the seating is retracted.
Using 2.5mm wire for the loops, a specialist contractor was brought in to cut grooves in the concrete floor, after which the wire was dropped in and the slot backfilled with cement mix. This approach has the great advantage that the loop installed in the floor beneath the bleacher seating cannot be disturbed when the seating is being moved in and out.
Meanwhile, several floors above these installations are the Bird Theatre and a 280-seat cinema, both of which also feature Ampetronic induction loops, this time using copper tape. These spaces are also adjacent to each other, so phase-cancelling, low spill arrays were installed here as well, powered by ILD500 loop amplifiers with SP5s.
“The Bird Theatre was a relatively straightforward installation, but the cinema straddles the fourth and fifth floors of the building, rather than being simply adjacent to the Bird,” says Karl. “This complicated the potential spill issues, but Ampetronic’s low spill design works extremely well.”
All four spaces are used for a variety of purposes, so the primary feed for the induction loops for all except the cinema is a highly directional microphone, whose directivity can be adjusted to suit the event being held. In the cinema, the main feed is the film sound, but all four can use a variety of signal feeds as necessary.
“The systems all work really well,” says Karl Formstone. “People at CUC have commented on how powerful the loop signals are and, considering the potential issues for spill and interference from the substation, it shows how advanced Ampetronic’s solutions are. The arrays really do the job well.
“Ampetronic was also extremely supportive and made the job so much easier by being very accessible. I had a number of questions for the engineering team and they were very helpful - not least with the carpet fitters having left no less than 20 cuts in the copper tape of the Cinema array. They advised us on making the required repairs and the system works perfectly.
“Every room had to conform to the latest standards and, thanks to having such a good working partnership, the client has complete confidence that the job is done to an extremely high standard.”
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