Lakeuden Risti Church gains intelligibility
FINLAND: Although relatively young when compared to many of Europe’s most recognisable houses of worship, Lakeuden Risti Church in the Finnish city of Seinäjoki has already attained status as a nationally significant heritage site at little over half a century old. The building was designed by renowned architect Alvar Aalto and became one of Finland's most distinguishable churches due to its 65m tall bell tower shaped like a cross.
Inside, the 50m long sanctuary can accommodate 1,200 worshippers and features a high balcony and large pipe organ at the back. While visually striking, the interior had suffered with the acoustic challenge presented by the room’s shape, which produced an echo that resulted in poor speech intelligibility and left much of the congregation struggling to hear what was being said during sermons.
‘For those worshippers who were seated at the rear of the church, it was hard to understand what was being said,’ recalls Juha Tupeli, property manager for the church. ‘It was high time to resolve the problem.’
The church had reportedly made attempts to rectify the issue several times, with little or no luck. This time around Akukon, a Helsinki-based acoustic consultancy was approached to solve the problem and auditioned a number of potential systems, logging the STI produced by each one. This resulted in the selection of a beam steering solution from Renkus-Heinz, which was then installed by Audico Systems Oy. This comprised a pair of Iconyx IC24 steerable column arrays, mounted at the front of the church in a left-right formation.
‘These very discreet, unobtrusive column speakers provide precisely the directivity that the church required, and therefore the speech intelligibility it wanted to achieve,’ reveals Ilkka Hilden, sales manager at Audico Systems Oy. ‘Lakeuden Risti Church presented us with a very good example of what can be achieved even in a difficult acoustic space. In a protected building, you can't solve acoustic problems by altering the structure – your only option is to find an effective technical solution.’
‘Our worshippers can now understand everything that is said during sermons, no matter where they are seated,’ confirms Mr Tupeli, following the installation. ‘A lot of people have come to the church and told us that the results of this installation are beyond their expectations.’