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Veale Associates Completes Tate Modern Project

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Veale Associates (VA) was recently involved in the refurbishment of the cinema at The Tate Modern, equipping the facility so it can host a varied programme of events and screenings.

Stevenage-based VA worked closely with broadcast systems integration company IPE on the venue which has been renamed the Starr Cinema and is one of only 26 UK cinemas to be kitted out with Dolby Atmos surround sound technology. VA provided the acoustic design and treatment for the 250-seat cinema, and handled the speaker design for the Dolby Atmos system.

Before the technology design could be addressed, the building structure and acoustics required a major refurbishment and VA Principal Eddie Veale liaised with Dolby's studio certification department for several months prior to work commencing, due to the complexity imposed by the building constraints.

One of the many challenges for VA was to ensure that the reverb and acoustic performance would work for presentations and live performance as well as for cinema. Sandwiched between the Tate café and the large Turbine hall, the existing cinema experienced sound leakage and needed to be fixed.

VA was tasked with designing acoustics that would combat the physical problems, while providing fit out company West One with robust finishes, and at the same time meeting the architectural brief.

Base traps were put in the wall and ceiling and the speakers were concealed so that they are not visible, a move that met the approval of Tate's project team while fulfilling the concept of transparency of the sound source.

The result is acoustics that are tightly controlled so that the visitor will hear everything, no matter where they are seated. Together with the Dolby Atmos, the acoustic treatment ensures that the audience experiences a full and realistic sound that originates from the screen and tracks around the auditorium.

The cinema technology has been installed in such a way that it has cross-site capability. While it was beyond the original project brief, by working closely with Tate's IT department, IPE achieved the task as an additional benefit. At the official opening night party for the new Tate Modern extension, live performances in the Turbine Hall were streamed back to the Starr Cinema for guests to enjoy in the comfort of the new surroundings.

“We are delighted to have been involved in such a ground-breaking project,” said VA Principal and APRS Fellow Eddie Veale. “Tate Modern is an iconic building and as such deserves an acoustic treatment of the highest standard. After a four-month build, the Starr Cinema has emerged as a revitalised, top end, multi-function venue, offering facilities unique within the UK, and is one of only a handful of its kind across Europe. We are thrilled to have been part of the team that made it happen.”
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