Even in famously beautiful Paris, with its many architectural attractions, the Tribunal de Paris is an impressive addition. The stunning new complex covers more than 400,000 square meters (4.3 million sq ft) of buildings on 106.25 acres of land, and brings together the core activities of the Parisian justice system, previously scattered across some 30 sites. Its centrepiece is a 40-story tower, 160 metres (525 feet) high, designed by architects at the Renzo Piano Building Workshop and featuring a cascade of terraces and a transparent glass base.
When completed-operations prior to occupancy commenced in February 2017-the eye-catching edifice will house, among other spaces, the 90 courtrooms of the Tribunal de Grande Instance (TGI), or Court of Justice. Fifty-five courtrooms are equipped with networked AV systems co-designed by Axente, Bouygues Energies & Services, and Audiovisuel Solutions, and based on Symetrix Prism DSPs.
“This was a big project because of the number of courtrooms,” observes Axente Director of Audio Alain Hercman. “Networking 55 courtrooms required 37 Symetrix Prism 4×4 DSPs, 18 Prism 8×8 DSPs, and 130 Attero Tech unDIO2x2 interfaces. Each courtroom is handling a different case, so we did not need to send audio or video between rooms, but all 55 AV systems are connected to the network at a central technical room, from which they are managed.”
To enable an efficient and manageable AV system in a big building where courtrooms are often located far from the technical room, the design team specified a Dante network. “Dante was the best solution,” Hercman confirms. “Dante allows us to easily move and control audio across long distances using fiber and CAT6 cables. And with Symetrix Prism DSPs and Attero Tech Dante interfaces, the Dante network is flexible, reliable, and easy to use.”
Recording capabilities and security are extremely important factors in a courtroom. “We need to keep things as confidential as possible, so there are rules that are very specific to a court of justice,” Hercman notes. “For example, the court has to be able to record to video and recall everything in case an advocate needs to prove that someone said something at a specific time. The video has to be secure yet easy to play back. So the installation has to meet certain standards.”
Although the 55 courtrooms are similar, they are not identical. “Some rooms can accommodate more attorneys than others, and some have secure boxes for the accused, with glass everywhere,” Hercman explains. “So we needed slightly different equipment in those spaces. But the way we use the Symetrix Prisms is basically the same in all rooms. Analog signals go to and from the unDIO2x2 boxes, which route Dante streams over CAT cable and fiber to and from the Prism DSPs.”
For Hercman, Symetrix was an obvious solution. “Symetrix is among the most famous brands in the category, and rightly so,” Hercman maintains. “They make very high quality products that are extremely reliable, which is essential in a courtroom situation. And they work great with Attero Tech unDIO2x2 interfaces, which are small and can be unobtrusively located and powered over Ethernet. That makes it easy to put a Dante connection wherever it’s needed.”
A long-time Symetrix user, Hercman appreciates its programming software. “We’ve used Symetrix DSPs in other projects, and we have found them easier to program than other DSPs,” he praises. “The Symetrix Prism has a very high quality engine. Since each courtroom system is used independently and has a different design, the programming of 55 different matrices for TGI should have been challenging and time consuming. But thanks to Symetrix Composer software with its logic-based processing modules, it proved to be fast and easy.”
Another major factor in choosing Symetrix was affordability. “With a project of this magnitude, involving big construction companies, pricing is very important because there are so many items to buy,” asserts Hercman. “Symetrix offered the right solution at an excellent price. Their products deliver the best value on the market.”
Hercman emphasises that the TGI AV system was the result of a cooperative effort. “The integrator was Bouygues Energies & Services (BES) of Montigny le Bretonneux, and Audiovisuel Solutions (APE) of Nanterre was a subcontractor installer,” he specifies. “The studies, solutions, and designs were a collaboration between Axente, APE, and BES, which worked very well.”
The TGI project was special for the Axente/APE/BES team. Not only was it a large installation in a beautiful and soon-to-be-iconic building, but the new Court of Justice will be an important part of civic life in Paris. “It’s an important job in many ways,” agrees Hercman. “We are confident that everyone will be pleased with the AV system, and with Symetrix DSPs, the network will perform at a high level for many years.”