Part of a new terminal extension at Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, Aukio (Finnish for “square” or “plaza”) is a relaxing, fluid space where global travelers can gently immerse themselves in the unique sounds and sights of Finland’s vast landscape. Aukio is surrounded by a gently undulating, two-meter high Samsung 4K video screen — wrapping for 75 meters around the perimeter walls — that vividly displays Finland’s outdoor scenery cycling through the four seasons. Complementing the visual panorama is a subtle yet engaging multi-channel soundtrack, reproduced with precise definition by 27 Meyer Sound self-powered loudspeakers.
In contrast to the noise and bustle of most airport concourse lounges, Aukio provides an island of aural and visual serenity. According to Joni Sundelin, director of Helsinki-Vantaa Airport, the goal of the project was to “create a showcase through which millions of international passengers will receive their first contact with Finland. The experience of Finnish design, fluency and peaceful nature will leave the traveler with a long-lasting, pleasant memory.”
High quality and perfectly balanced audio was critical in achieving this goal, principally because weary travelers can close their eyes but — short of inserting earplugs — they cannot shut out sounds. Therefore, the audio program had to be clearly present and fully supportive of the visuals, but never annoying or intrusive.
The audio, video and lighting technology package was designed and engineered by Studiotec Ltd. of nearby Espoo, Finland under the general direction of Managing Director John-Axel Stråhlman and with project management by System Specialist Kai Granholm.
“We evaluated options from two other leading loudspeaker manufacturers but in the end we determined Meyer Sound offered the best overall solution,” says Studiotec’s Granholm. “Their loudspeakers provide excellent natural sound quality, a wide choice of sizes and a range of rigging options that allowed precise placement and orientation.”
The complete Meyer Sound complement comprises 16 UPJunior and 10 UP-4XP loudspeakers with low-frequency extension from a single X-400C cinema subwoofer. The UP-4XP loudspeakers incorporate Meyer Sound’s exclusive IntelligentDC™ technology, with balanced audio signals and 48V DC power for the amplifiers supplied to the loudspeakers from a remote rack mount unit over a single flexible cable.
“The sound of the system naturally supports the effect of the wide, 360-degree panoramic view,” notes Granholm. “The design emphasis is on the natural beauty of Finland, including some very subtle but remarkable natural sounds. For instance, many people are surprised that the Aurora Borealis [Northern Lights] creates audible sound, usually described as crackle, sputter or hissing. The effect on all sounds is remarkable, and overall the airport management has been very pleased with the Meyer Sound system.”
In addition to the Samsung wrap-around screen and Meyer Sound loudspeakers, the complete AVL technology package also includes nine Christie video projectors, a Christie Pandora’s Box media server, and BrightSign media players.
Chief designer for the terminal extension was PES-Architects, with video display designed by Davidson Tarkela Architects in collaboration with Rune & Berg Design. OiOi Collective and Granlund Oy provided concept development and implementation of the presentation content. Tuusmet Ltd. and Visual Element Ltd. partnered with Studiotec on the display installation.
Studiotec Ltd. is a leading Finnish distributor and integrator of audio, video and lighting equipment. In business for more than 30 years and currently with a team of around 60 professionals, Studiotec serves a broad range of clients in government, broadcasting and the performing arts, as well as the cruise ship building industry.
Helsinki-Vantaa Airport is operated by Finavia, a public limited company owned by the Finnish government.