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Case Study: Yusof Ishak mosque, Singapore

10 August 2017

The estate manager at Yusof Ishak mosque explains how his experience and an open exchange of ideas with the consultant helped ensure that the house of worship was fitted with a modern and flexible AV system.

Yusof Ishak mosque, named after Singapore’s first president, was announced by the prime minister of Singapore, Lee Hsien Loong, in 2013. The mosque was completed and opened in April 2017 and is able to accommodate up to 4,500 people and provides facilities such as multi-purpose halls, seminar rooms, conference rooms and more. CCW was engaged as the consultant for the project while Electronics & Engineering was the system integrator.

Adam bin Mohd Eunos, estate manager for Yusof Ishak mosque, talks about the vision for the AV systems to be deployed: “We wanted simple systems that were fool proof. In particular, I wanted both digital and analogue systems in place so that if the digital systems failed the analogue systems would take over, especially for video. The main goal was to have a system that was operational at all times.”

The requirements of the mosque were informed by Eunos’ experience. He says: “I have worked in facilities management for another mosque where we were using a fully digital system using Netmax. However, the system was designed such that it only worked with Windows 7. Whenever a device was upgraded to Windows 10 the system failed and it had no analogue backup. Every week, I had to troubleshoot and handle software incompatibility problems. So we decided to make sure such problems do not occur at this mosque by having redundancy.”

The focus on video is unusual for a mosque, where audio usually takes centre stage. Eunos explains how video is used at Yusof Ishak mosque: “We use video in multiple ways. When the imam is reciting verses, we bring the relevant verses up on screen with projectors. Additionally, we show a live video capture of the imam as well as picture-in-picture.”

He continues: “We also have a number of classrooms and seminar rooms where video is used. The classrooms can be used as standalone spaces or used in unison as well. The video system needs to be able to provide this flexibility.”

Flexibility was a key requirement, as Eunos details: “It was essential that all the spaces be linked together because of Friday prayers, which is when a large number of worshippers attend prayers in congregation at the mosque. All the spaces need to be used and function as spillover rooms. We even have the capacity to turn the car park into an area that can accommodate worshippers.”

Prayer hall

The prayer hall on the second floor is the main space for worship at the Yusof Ishak mosque. It features two Panasonic projectors for video and a range of Kramer ceiling speakers for audio. The dais for the imam has been equipped with Shure gooseneck microphones. There is an Extron button wall-plate which has been hard-coded to provide control over the AV system.

The main components of the AV system are housed in a control room and manage the AV system not only in the main prayer hall but across the mosque.

At the core of the video system is a Kramer 32 x 32 matrix switch. There was some back and forth between the end-user and the consultant regarding the video system and the eventual inclusion of the switch. Eunos details: “I knew from the beginning that I wanted a digital and an analogue video system running in parallel for the mosque to provide complete security from failure. It was difficult to get this idea across to CCW at the beginning because they just saw it as increased cost for redundancy.”

He continues: “But when they understood my idea, they specified the Kramer 32 x 32 matrix. Initially, I did not know why we needed the matrix switch. But I knew that I wanted the different video systems to work individually and also work in tandem. CCW then showed me that the matrix switch was essential for establishing the kind of system I wanted. Once again, it came down to having a system that was operational at all times.” A Panasonic camera system is used to capture video of the imam and the controller is housed in the control room. A Datavideo SE-700 digital video switcher and a Blackmagic Design mini HDMI to SDI convertor can also be found.

Eunos says: “Friday prayers at the mosque are a live production, which is why we have the Datavideo switcher and the Blackmagic Design convertor. With these we produce and manage the visuals that need to be displayed from the Panasonic cameras and we use a laptop to bring in PowerPoint slides with the verses.”

The audio system is controlled by a QSC DSP while amplification is provided by four Ashly Ne series units. A Bosch Plena system serves as the public address system. Shure microphones are used for audio input and an Allen & Heath Qu- 24 mixer manages audio inputs and outputs. An Extron IPCP Pro 550 unit along with a variety of wall-plates is used for control. The Extron product is used to control the audio and video in different zones and to turn the systems on and off.

Auditorium

The Yusof Ishak mosque has an auditorium on the 5th floor which commemorates the legacy of the man the mosque is named after. There is a static display in the auditorium that details the life, work and achievements of Yusof Ishak, the ? rst president of Singapore.

The auditorium is fitted with two Panasonic projectors and a total of four Community column speakers. The projectors and speakers are deployed such that the auditorium can be used as one whole space or two smaller areas. The control room for the auditorium features a Kramer VS-44HN 4x4 matrix switcher to manage the video system and a Symetrix Jupiter 4 DSP. An Ashly 8250 ampli? er powers the audio system while a Mackie 1604vlz4 16 channel mixer is also employed.

The fifth floor of the mosque also has open air spaces which can be used by worshippers. These feature EAW speakers along with wall-plates for connectivity. Eunos says: “We can bring displays and televisions in to this space and plug them into the wall-plates for use. The mosque has a number of TVs on trolleys which come in very handy. We are packed full on Fridays and the extra utility of these spaces is needed.”

Seminar rooms

The Yusof Ishak mosque has four seminar rooms which are used to conduct classes for different age groups throughout the week. Audio is provided by EAW speakers while a BenQ ultra-short throw projector is used for visuals.

Regarding the latter, Eunos says: “I didn’t want any unsightly pipes coming down from the wall so we chose a BenQ UST projector for the seminar rooms. The choice was made on design and aesthetics.”

All the seminar rooms can be used alone or in together. The seminar rooms also serve as an example of analogue and digital video systems running in parallel that was a core requirement of the estate manager. Eunos explains: “The wall-plates in the seminar rooms have two inputs. One is used just to connect to the projector in the seminar room. The second input links you to the Kramer 32 x 32 matrix in the 2nd floor control room. So you can actually have the content from the seminar room shown anywhere across the mosque. This is the benefit of having digital and analogue side by side.”

Being involved with the project from an early stage, Eunos has a full picture of the trails and challenges that had to be surmounted. He recalls some of the problems that were run in to: “The design and layout of the risers did not line up well with the requirements of the AV systems and we had to make a lot of diversions. For example, the main control room had to be on the 2nd floor so that we could see the main prayer hall when we run production. Unfortunately there was no riser nearby so we have to divert and run extra cabling to make sure that we could have our desired location for the control room.”

He also comments on some changes that he has in mind: “The digital aspect of the installation was the most important. This is why we use a lot of TVs and panels. We’ve also got a few projectors primarily because of their low operating costs. But in the future I would like to see them replaced with display panels.”

Overall, Eunos is satisfied with the AV systems at the mosque. He says: “I wanted Yusof Ishak mosque to be a modern mosque. The emphasis must be on the imam. The imam does not have to be a point that the worshipper must focus on directly or must face. Wherever in the mosque the worshipper may be, they must be able to hear and see the imam with ease.”


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