London’s Royal Albert Hall is one of the most recognisable concert venues in the world. Opened in 1871 by Queen Victoria, it hosts over 350 performances every year. These include not only classical and popular music concerts, but also events as diverse as tennis tournaments and an audience with the Dalai Lama.
As an international entertainment venue in constant use, gaining access for refurbishment or essential maintenance can be difficult. This is further compounded by restrictions due to its status as a Grade I listed building. In addition, the venue is a registered charity and operates without any public subsidy so any expenditure must be carefully planned.
Leader Systems recommended an intelligent fire detection system based on the Apollo open digital protocol to overcome the historical issues with operation, performance and ongoing maintenance. The system design centres around a standard network of six four-loop Advanced Electronics control panels. The Apollo Discovery and XPander fire detection ranges were chosen to meet the environmental and architectural demands of the Royal Albert Hall. XPander wireless fire detectors were specified for areas where hard-wired devices could not be installed, such as the ceiling of the auditorium.
The fire system strategy split the work into five phases. Phase 1 covered the replacement of the conventional system. Phase 2 addressed the Circle area of the auditorium, which was equipped with a conventional system. There were two parts to Phase 3. Firstly, a contingency was built in to enable loop installation in the Circle areas when access was possible, in case the Phase 2 changeover using the existing wiring proved unsuccessful. Secondly, the old radio detection system was replaced with new wireless fire detectors. This system is installed in the dome of the roof. The plan for Phase 4 was to replace the old analogue addressable system with the new intelligent system and commission all the new fire products. A switch-over of all the commissioned components to a single system and development of the graphics package was scheduled in Phase 5.
The Final Verdict
The client fully appreciates the unique circumstances that the Royal Albert Hall presented and the added value contributed by all the companies involved in the fire detection project. Building Services Development Manager Tom Scullane concludes:
I needed a fire detection system that put me in control and the combination of Leader System’s design and the Apollo open protocol gave me that.