Some great news from war-torn Ukraine comes from Leoland, a 300,000 square meter state-of-the-art sports, educational entertainment & leisure complex for the whole family in Lviv, in the west of the country, which has just opened a new multipurpose conference concert space.
This enhances its already excellent facilities at the heart of this picturesque city. Given everything that Ukraine has been going through over the last 20 months, it is as much of a small miracle as it is a testament to the spirit and strength of all involved in the project who were determined it should be completed and immediately start further benefiting the community.
The room features 270-degree projections and is lit with Robe products including 8 x VIVA CMYs to cover the stage, together with 26 x LEDWash 600+s and eight ParFect 150s that are positioned around the ceiling, all delivered by one of Robe’s Ukrainian distributors, Sound House, based in Dnipro.
The lights were all chosen for their expedient size, flexibility, and power. The height to the ceiling is 5.7 metres, so physically smaller fixtures were another consideration, and of course, they had to be bright and intense to fill the space and to dovetail in with the spectacular video projections for which Sound House worked closely with video specialist Front Picture, who supplied a bespoke projection control system.
The multipurpose room is one phase involved in expanding the existing Leoland property, and it was driven by a private investor.
The planning for the venue started at the end of 2020 intended as a central venue for business events and gatherings. The original technical installation date should have been March 2022, but the war started the month before.
Since then, people’s immediate needs have shifted, so Leoland’s whole emphasis has also moved more to it being more of a social hub that can be enjoyed by all the public of all ages as well as those engaged in business. There is a requirement to stage commercial events which is starting to grow again, and these are much needed right now to stimulate different areas of Ukraine’s adapting economy.
Sound House created a full technical design – audio, lighting, and AV – package for this new multipurpose room and proposed it to their client after taking their brief, explained CEO Andrey Garkaviy. They then won the contract to supply and install all of it.
The stipulations included that the room must be able to stage anything from a medium size conference plenary session or a product launch to a similar standing or seated live performance/entertainment show with band, dance group or other artists.
Flexibility in every element was a key as well as value for money, so the proposed design contained a medium to high level of specification. In Ukraine, the company/team supplying the winning design will regularly get the chance to also supply the kit, which is why many of the sales and distribution companies there will also have a projects division.
“We try to put ourselves in the client’s shoes when building a spec,” noted Andrey, adding that the same thought process often informs the choice of brand to take on as a distributor.
I completely believe in Robe as a group of individuals and as a brand! They are truly innovative and consistent across all their product ranges, and the company understands the need for building robust, high quality multipurpose kit that lasts a long time and does several things very well! So, the relationship comes first and then the technology!”
Once the war started in February 2022, the multipurpose venue was put on hold, but after a few months the client decided to reactivate it, and to no-one’s surprise, a degree of value engineering was required.
“We just took this in our stride at this stage and given everything else going on!” commented Andrey with a wry smile. Those left at Sound House – several crew and staff have joined the ZSU (Ukrainian Armed Forces) while others have found work abroad – “were just ecstatic that the project was able to continue – you can imagine!”
However, this also wasn’t the biggest challenge for Sound House by that time!
On March 11th, 2022, 2 weeks after the start of the war, two Kalibr cruise missiles ripped into their warehouse in Dnipro, completely destroying the building and everything in it including the Robe ParFects and VIVA CMYs, a bunch of audio and AV kit which had already arrived in readiness for the installation. The complex security guard and his dog were killed in the strike.
Luckily the LEDWash 600+s had not yet arrived, and as soon as the invasion began, Andrey asked the Robe factory to leave everything not yet delivered safe in the Czech Republic.
When the project cautiously re started in mid-2023 he had to re-order all the kit that had been destroyed in the missile strike.
The wartime economy also brings many more logistical nightmares – massive increases in the time and cost of equipment and road transport, crew shortages and the fact that everything takes longer to install on site amidst constant power and network outages. But everyone was determined.
The installation work was completed in August and September and the new room hosted its first events at the end of September.
The Sound House team has already installed additional cabling and control infrastructure to expand all the systems – lighting, sound, and multimedia – in the future, which will include some more moving head luminaires.
“This project has been an emotional journey in so many ways, but also one of strength, solidarity, and resilience. Many people on all levels have had to work together, believe in each other, and give above-and-beyond the normal passion that we all put into our work anyway by default! Apart from that, our client had to have the faith to go ahead at a time like this.”
This narrative says a lot about Ukraine.
Photos: Louise Stickland/Leoland.