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GBE scores a try at Twickenham Stadium
Twickenham stadium, home to the RFU and English rugby has been undergoing various improvements to its infrastructure. The aim is to make Twickenham one of the finest stadiums in Europe and, although rugby will always be the main focus, the ambition is to develop the 80,000 capacity stadium into an iconic global entertainment venue as well. The recent renovations have also been part of the preparatory process for this autumn’s 2015 Rugby World Cup and to help sustain the stadium for the next 25 years.
Part of the redevelopment programme has been the full scale modernisation of the PA/VA system. The original system was installed during the various phases of building in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s, and now lacks what is needed in a 21st century stadium. The RFU’s objective was to have a system that provided excellent audibility and intelligibility but that could also accommodate the multiple and simultaneous broadcasting functions needed within the different zones of the stadium.

The RFU’s main contractor Shepherd Engineering Services appointed GBE to carry out the design, supply, installation and commissioning of the new PA/VA system. Being responsible for such a technically complex design GBE carried out an extensive, 5 week acoustic survey that involved acoustic sampling and creating 3D desktop modelling of the stadium.

Following the design GBE decided to specify the Gent D1 Voice Alarm system integrated with high performance audio speakers supplied by specialist manufacturer Funktion One. As Gent Technology Centre partners GBE had complete trust in the technical performance of the Gent equipment, and as GBE managing director Jason Buttle commented “our long-standing working relationship with Gent is second-to-none and we knew the high quality of equipment and support was exactly what was needed on this technically demanding project.” Additionally, Gent were able to meet the exacting 4 week lead time.

The installation phase also presented significant challenges. Without any background design, rigorous, on-site technical management was required from the GBE project team. Installation was further complicated logistically by working alongside other redevelopment work and with the stadium’s planned event schedule carrying on as normal.

On successful completion of commissioning the new system has provided Twickenham with a state-of-the-art ‘granular’ system that allows up to 60 different zones to broadcast at any one time, with excellent audibility and intelligibility. The RFU is now able to have greater engagement with fans and visitors and to provide them with unique content and opportunities whilst they are in the stadium.

GBE are providing training to stadium staff on how best to use the new system for applications as diverse as match day crowd control, advertising, concerts and conferences.

The project was completed on time and within budget.