Giant LED videowall provides a curved allure at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco

A gigantic immersive videowall is the centrepiece of a beautiful multi-purpose auditorium at the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco. Paul Milligan reports.

The main campus of the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (known as UM6P) is located in Ben Guerir, near Marrakech, but also has branches in Rabat and Laayoune. The University is focused on research and innovation, with a particular emphasis on African development. Since its formation the University has built several international partnerships with other educational establishments around the world including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

It first welcomed students in 2013 before being officially inaugurated in January 2017. Shortly after the inauguration, the university began planning for phase 2 of its development. Involved heavily in the project during phase 1, and again brought in for phase 2 was Atrait Consulting, a multi-technical design office based in France and Morocco, who has worked on UM6P projects since 2011. Part of phase 2 was the design of the AV component for a multi-purpose auditorium for oil company OCP (the oil group has its HQ in the University grounds and will have use of the auditorium) located in the city of Ben Guerir, between Casablanca and Marrakech.

In those initial conversations, what did the client ask Atrait to provide? “The tender specification for the administrative building was to provide a suite of state-of-the-art technologies so that this new tool could become a benchmark, while remaining intuitive and scalable,” says Éric Jondot, managing director of Atrait. Once the initial concept was established there were no major changes made “except for a few adaptations” during the whole process adds Jondot. The standout technology of the auditorium is a vast curved LED screen measuring 87.84m by 2.7m. To design at such a massive scale Atrait decided to start from a blank piece of paper says Jondot. “The only directive we had was to highlight the architectural elements and technological capabilities of such a futuristic public space. From the earliest discussions with the client and the architect we were asked to create a concept that would be totally innovative and unique. As a result we proposed a completely immersive and unprecedented AV installation.”

Once the concept was defined Atrait carried out all the assessments for issuing the calls for tenders. These assessments resulted in the products which are currently installed and the protocols used. “In terms of the audio part, the immersive broadcasting system was based on L-ISA from L-Acoustics. As for the protocols required to operate the concept, Dante, AVB, and Madi were all installed,” adds Jondot. In fact, audio on the project is represented by loudspeakers from L-Acoustics (Syva and X8 models), Shure Axient microphones and ULX goosenecks, TOA ceiling speakers, and Yamaha digital mixing consoles.

Once the tender process had finished Cegelec Maroc, a subsidiary of construction group Vinci Energies, was brought on board as the AV integrator. The first challenge for both Atrait and Cegelec Maroc, working with partners Samsung France and Peerless-AV, was to take into account the irregularities of the wall to accommodate such a large LED videowall. The need to create a perfect cylinder in a structurally non-perfect cylinder brought a series of challenges. The first problem to overcome was to design the mounting structure from architectural plans because the auditorium had not yet been built. The structure also had to consider any irregularities in the future construction too.

Younes Hannache, project manager and business manager from Cegelec Maroc takes up the story of how the planning for such a difficult and challenging task took its first steps; “To begin with we provided a BIM model of the room in 3D, in real size to the millimetre, with the desired final appearance of the LED wall, with all the technical details, height, width, the radius of curvature etc. This model helped facilitate the task to properly size the structure that would support the giant LED wall of 87m while meeting the technical constraints of the installation. For example, compensating for the irregularities of the circular wall on which the supporting structure would be fixed. For this, Peerless had the ingenious idea of using a jig to create the perfect circle. This ‘trick’ proved to be very useful during the installation phase to align the structure with the radius of curvature of the finish.

”Peerless-AV’s Seamless dvLED team designed a structure using machine mounting services enabling the structure to have extremely high tolerances. The faces were machined to four decimal places, to create an angle of 178.2871-degrees on the plates surface. This ensured the perfect angle was achieved and, more importantly, precise pixel alignment. The team also accounted for adjustment in the design, so included push/pull adjustment to manage heights, roll and depth adjustment. Once the drawings were approved by Atrait Consulting, production could begin at the Peerless-AV manufacturing plant in California.The curved LED videowall consists of 183 x 5 (915 in total) Samsung IFH-E LED 2.5mm pixel pitch tiles within a fully floating cylinder measuring 32m in diameter. “The challenge here is 50% relating to the structure and the other 50% to the expertise of the installer. The study of the structural element had to be extremely thorough, and the handling of the cabinets had to be carried out with anti-static gloves in a very delicate way,” says Thomas Kayat, key account manager display, Samsung.

Once the design phase was completed, the challenge for Cegelec was managing the 350 people and 40 cherry pickers on-site. A team of 16 people was able to take advantage of a three-week site stoppage in July, during this time they worked 12 hours a day in the middle of summer in temperatures between 35°C and 38°C. “The execution schedule was initially spread over 60 days,” says Hannache. “But because of the technical constraints to meet the completion date of the project we were forced to reduce the turnaround time to three weeks.”

The three-week schedule saw Cegelec split itself into two teams, with the first few days of the project spent on topographical surveys and determining landmarks. “The next step was to install microphones, adjust the fixing structure, and then install the first LED panel under the supervision of the technician. After three days a third of the wall was completed,” says Hannache. “There were some technical constraints, for example the lintels intended to hold the structure were on a discontinuous part of the wall, so aligning the pillars of the LED panels was a challenge.”

Because of the scale of this project Peerless-AV dispatched an LED engineer from its Chicago HQ to help handle the execution. “He trained the workers on-site and guided them on the installation of the mounting structure through to the installation of the LED panels and the alignment tests,” said Gwenaelle Villette, director of sales France, Peerless-AV. At the start of each day, Peerless-AV and Cegelec led a meeting on the tasks to be carried out, and another at the end of the day to discuss any problems encountered. “Bearing in mind that the curved videowall is 313.46-degrees, two groups worked together to construct from the centre to the end points. This approach made it possible to halve the installation time,” adds Hannache.

After three days one third of the LED videowall was completed. As you would expect with such a complex installation, a series of technical constraints inevitably arose. One particularly difficult issue was that the lintels intended to hold the structure were on a discontinuous part of the wall. Aligning the pixels on the LED panels was also a challenge owing to the auditorium’s architecture. Special global mounting jigs and spacers allowed the install team to scrutinise and perfectly align each of the 184 columns. Allowing each cabinet to be seamlessly applied to the frame, with zero damage to any of the 915 LED tiles.Not content with having a nearly 100m long curved videowall, the auditorium is also home to 24 Christie 30,000 lumens projectors.

The projectors have been installed all around the auditorium, a couple of metres above the LED videowall in cages and fill the entire room with light by projecting onto the ceiling. Combined with state-of-the-art audio, it creates a gorgeous and immersive spectacle for the variety of different events the owners eventually want the auditorium to host. The immaculate sound design, even in such a hugely reflected environment, ensures that wherever visitors stand in the auditorium, crystal clear audio is sent their way.

The relationship with the architect (Ricardo Bofill Taller de Architecture) on this project was a smooth and productive one for Atrait admits Jondot. “From the first design proposals we worked hand in hand with the architect to incorporate all the technical elements into the initial design and the desired materials. But this relationship continued beyond the design phase as we collaborated throughout the installation process.”The installation process kicked off in March 2020 and the first receptions were held there in June 2022. The AV budget proposed at the concept phase by Atrait was backed by the client and “Was kept to it right until completion. No compromises were required,” adds Jondot.


L-Acoustics Syva and X8 loudspeakers, KS28 and SB15M subwoofers L-isa software, LA4X processors
Shure Axient digital system, ULX goosenecks
TOA EN54 ceiling speakers
Yamaha CL5 and CL1 digital mixing consoles, Rio 1608-D2 Dante interfaces

Analog Way Aquilon videowall processors
Blackmagic Design ATEM Production Studio 4K switchers
Christie Crimson 30,000 lumens projectors
Extron Quantum Ultra videowall processors, XTP II 3200 and XTP II 6400 routers
Modulo Pi Kinetic video servers
Peerless LED mounts
Samsung IFH curved LED 2.5mm pixel pitch tiles
Sony PTZ cameras

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