The heart of the Hallé

The heart of the Hallé

Building automation and control systems through a single tool.

The Challenge

A world-famous orchestra dating back to 1858, the Hallé is ranked among the UK’s top symphonic ensembles.

It has used the former St Peter’s Church - which incidentally also dates back to the same period - in the Ancoats district of Manchester as its principal rehearsal and recording venue for the orchestra, youth orchestra, choir and youth choirs since 2012.

The Hallé wanted to improve the existing facilities, expand the artistic and education activities it offers and open the building up for more public and community events.

It has spent £4.3million on a project to upgrade the 561 square metre Grade II listed church and build a new three-storey 1,190 square metre extension known as The Oglesby Centre, which includes a café and kitchen, large rehearsal space, education workshop facilities, individual practice spaces, and improved facilities for the Hallé’s musicians and choirs.

The Hallé’s biggest challenge was finding a way of making the old church building and its new modern extension work seamlessly together.

With so many spaces of different sizes and for different purposes, the Hallé wanted to achieve a high level of sustainability and energy efficiency in its design.

It wanted optimum control over the heating, lighting, temperature and air quality throughout the building and with so many expensive instruments and recording equipment on site, as well as the 1,000 visitors it hosts each week. Security is also an important focus.

The Solution:

Siemens have been supporters of the Hallé for over 20 years and major sponsors since 2011.

When it revealed it was planning a major building project, Siemens offered its help and brought to the table its industry leading technology.

At the heart of Hallé St Peter’s and The Oglesby Centre is Siemens’ digital building management system, Desigo, an intuitive platform which enables the Hallé to monitor, operate and improve its building automation and control systems through one single tool.

Hundreds of sensors spread across both the old and modern buildings monitor temperature, air quality and lighting and feed the important data to Desigo which automatically adjusts the levels to achieve optimal room conditions.

Innovative Green Leaf controls allow room users to manually alter the conditions, notifying them of unnecessary energy consumption to encourage them to actively save energy.

Siemens has also installed and a new CCTV security system and its industry-leading fire monitoring device, Cerberus Pro, which is designed to reliably detect all types of fire hazard, distinguishing between real and false alarms to ensure unnecessary interruptions in the building are avoided.

Martin Glynn, Venues Director for the Hallé, said: “For years Siemens and the Hallé have worked closely together to find new and innovative ways of partnering on projects, but this has been the first time we could really tap into its engineering expertise.

“When we started the conversation about the next stage of our ideas for St Peter's Siemens didn't hesitate in offering its help. It has given us access to state-of-the-art technology and allows us to spend the savings on other enhancements to the building.”

The Desigo platform offers the Hallé’s operations team convenient control of the building’s performance via smartphone, tablet, laptop and PC through WiFi.

The Desigo also future proofs the building by using open communication protocols which can connect to third party devices – not just Siemens products - and is Internet of Things (IoT)-ready so it can connect to new smart devices in the future.

Robin Phillips, Siemens Manchester Site Director, said: “With tens of thousands of people visiting the venue each year, the Hallé needed an intelligent system which responds to changes in the building in real time and is easy to control.

“The technology we installed allows the building to talk, tell us how it feels, if it is under stress, what it is missing.

“It also functions discreetly behind the scenes, without compromising the performer or audience experience or the integrity of the design.

“It has been fantastic to be able to bring together our experts in our Building Technologies and Smart Infrastructure division to create a safe, comfortable and highly energy efficient building.”

The Outcome:

The building is now so energy efficient the Hallé is expecting to cut its operating costs by 35% through energy reduction.

Sensors which monitor and automatically adjust temperature, air quality and lighting to achieve optimal room conditions will lower energy consumption in every room in the new building and lower CO2 emissions from the building, which has received the BREEAM ‘very good’ rating.

The system’s ability to automatically regulate temperature and humidity has the added benefit of providing well-balanced acoustics for performers and the audience.

John Summers, Chief Executive of the Hallé, said: “The sustainability and energy efficiency of this magnificent new facility was also at the heart of our design.

“Working with Siemens we have been able to find state-of-the-art solutions which will support Hallé’s targets for energy efficiency, comfort, safety and security.

“By reducing the building’s energy use, we can play our part in meeting the challenge of climate change while reducing operating costs, so more resources can be dedicated to nurturing future generations of musical talent."

Sensors will automatically alert the BMS to switch off the lights when the room is unoccupied. Before now, the Hallé's caretaker had the painstaking task of manually closing the 160-year-old building after the last performer or visitor had left, which meant walking to every plug point in the building.

Martin Glynn said: “Shutting things down meant moving from room to room switching everything off manually and setting the alarms before locking up. That process could take anything up to an hour to complete. And there was nothing more annoying than walking away from the building only to realise you'd left one light on and would have to go back in.

“Now the automation means you don’t have to worry about that, so shutting down the building is pressing a button or two and locking the doors.”

Hallé St Peter’s joins an impressive list of cultural buildings across the globe which have partnered with Siemens on upgrading their BMS, including Museum Victoria in Melbourne, Australia, Aïshti Foundation gallery in Beirut, Lebanon, and Wales Millennium Centre in Cardiff.

Further information is available on the Internet at

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