Mohammed VI Polytechnic University (UM6P) in Morocco is a private research institution committed to cultivating research and innovation to serve the African continent. Established in 2013 as part of the Green City of Benguerir project, it was named in honor of founder Mohammed VI, King of Morocco. The institute is funded by OCP, a leading producer and exporter of phosphate resources, which are used in customized fertilizers to develop higher crop yields and feed the planet more sustainably. The ambitious university project is a focal point for the Green City, and the expansive campus spans 55 hectares (135 acres). As part of a new development on the university campus, Agora – a multi-purpose circular auditorium – adorns the site, featuring a spectacular array of display technology, including Christie projection.
The project involved multiple players and recalling the initial steps, Éric Jondot, managing director of Morocco and Paris-based Atrait Consulting, met with the project architect Ricardo Bofill Taller de Arquitectura in Barcelona, to discuss plans for the eye-catching circular room with a dome-shaped ceiling. “They came to the meeting and said, ‘we have this great room, but we don’t know what to do inside, we want something truly unique that we’ve never seen before’. We discussed extensively with the customer and came back with the idea for the project which culminated in a plan for a completely immersive room, use cases, and how events could work within the space.”
Atrait Consulting worked extensively on the design of the project for eight months, before a tender was submitted in 2018, and building began in 2019. The design featured a giant custom-curved LED screen spanning 313-degrees, complemented by an impressive projection mapping setup highlighting the striking dome ceiling, with projectors to be hung several meters above the LED wall.
“I have a longstanding relationship and experience with Christie,” explains Jondot. “In addition to Christie DCP certifications, I gained considerable knowledge about the products and I knew that it would be a good fit. I think it really helps when you know partners well.”
Cegelec Maroc, a subsidiary of construction group VINCI, was brought on board as the AV integrator. Cegelec was responsible for all extra-low voltage technology, including AV and IT equipment, Wi-Fi, and CCTV. They installed 24 Christie Crimson 3DLP® laser projectors (23 HD31 models and one WU31 model) above the LED video wall, for more than 720,000 lumens.
“It was a real honor and pleasure to be selected and involved in this challenging dome mapping using our laser 3DLP projection technology to magnify this circular auditorium, along with Cegelec and Atrait Consulting,” adds Olivier Collet, senior sales manager, Christie.
“We chose projection as we felt it was the only technology that could use the ceiling as a display,” adds Jondot. “Were we to use LED, the weight of the panels on the ceiling would potentially cause issues, and the cost would have been very high. Projection was the right technology for the application.” The projectors were installed in customized dustproof enclosures, to protect the projectors and provide cooling.
The room – which was completed in 2022 – is fully equipped to handle a wide range of events, and also features 48 loudspeakers, eight subwoofers, multiple media servers, content playing options, stage monitors, lighting, video cameras, touch panel control, as well as equipment for mixing, broadcasting, and streaming. Much of the AV equipment is installed in nine AV racks in the nearby technical room. The auditorium has been designed for immersive presentations, banquets, as well as live events and shows. It will be available to OCP, and also to external customers looking to hire an exceptional space.
“We designed it to be used in two ways,” adds Jondot. “Firstly, we wanted there to be automatic use with just one button to run a pre-coded show. Content specialists Pixel N’Pepper created an eight-minute demonstration show for us. This uses all of the technical aspects in the room, and showcases how the space could be used, and how AV equipment can be used to create their own event. Alternatively, a total of eight technicians can work in the separate technical room to make use of the systems for more customized configurations. It could be used for something like a car launch, or an exclusive dining room.”
The award-winning project has been hailed as an excellent example of AV technology and one of the most impressive installations on the African continent.