A tour of InAVation Award winning integration at the Mærsk Tower
Integrator Stouenborg topped the Education category at the 2017 InAVation Awards. Anna Mitchell explores the AV installation for a new facility at the University of Copenhagen that includes three Meyer Sound Constellation systems.
A towering facility has been added to the Panum complex at the University of Copenhagen to house lecture and research facilities focused on the study of health and disease. The 15-storey Mærsk Tower contains three auditoriums, 16 lecture rooms, laboratories, classrooms and meeting and socialising spaces all packed with technology, part of an AV project designed, specified and installed by Stouenborg.
The facility was designed with floors grouped into sets of four that are linked by open atriums. This effectively connects different spaces and provides a sense of openness as well as cleverly delivering light throughout the tower.
It was designed following a competition staged by The Danish Building and Property Agency and Copenhagen University and won by C.F. Møller. A public-private partnership between A.P. Møller Møller Foundation and the Danish state was formed to build the DKK 1.5 billion (approximately €200 million) building.
“Biamp Tesira, using AVB, was selected for DSP and, once again, is used extensively in other areas.”Stouenborg was involved in the project from the beginning so was able to get in at the first stage to install an extensive fibre infrastructure stretching to 22km in length. Crestron DigitalMedia systems manage signal distribution throughout the building and a Onelan Reserva room booking system (powered by Onelan players and accessed via 10-in info-screens), connected directly to the network, allows reservation of the spaces.
A digital signage network runs through the building with content, run by Onelan, displayed on Panasonic 42-in LCDs that are wall-mounted in custom designed housing.
The building is organised with three large-scale auditoriums, restaurants and social spaces on the lower floors and further classrooms, offices and laboratories situated in the floors above. It’s topped with an area reserved for a viewpoint, a Faculty Club and a conference area.
Three auditoriums boast Meyer Sound Constellation systems. Installing three of these high-specification, top range audio systems was no small achievement and demanded huge skill and 20,000 man hours from Meyer Sound and Stouenborg engineers as well as the installation of more than 300 loudspeakers.
In addition to fine-tuning the delicate combination of microphones and loudspeakers, Stouenborg’s Anders Jørgensen notes that, while the Constellation System delivers a very powerful effect, it picks up and processes every tiny noise. Therefore, noise had to be removed from the auditoriums, which is easier said than done when they are full of hard surfaces and potentially noisy AV technologies.
In the largest auditorium, which contains 504 seats, Stouenborg custom built a frame for the Projecta projection screen which absorbed noise as well as special housing for the Panasonic projectors that offered air circulation while muffling the noise the units make.
This space proved the hardest to install the loudspeakers in. The ceiling features a number of parallel lines as part of the architectural design. However, the lines run the opposite way to the parallel rows of seats below which made it challenging to install the loudspeakers in the correct positions.
The kit required for the system was immense with 89 microphones, 124 loudspeakers and 19 networked D-Mitri frames, including core processing, D-VRAS and I/O installed. In addition to MM-4XP and MM-4XPD self-powered loudspeakers, Stouenborg provided MM-10XP subwoofers.
A demonstration of the Constellation system reveals an immensely powerful tool. A presenter’s voice is taken to every space in the room and sounds natural and not strained. When in “Q&A” mode any speaker at any position in the hall can join the discussion and be heard by classmates and the presenter. The systems can even support musical performances.
“We expect that the Constellation systems, in conjunction with other state-of-the-art AV technologies within the auditoria, will introduce the highest possible quality of sound.”“This is important for teaching,” says Jørgensen. “The lecturer can be free, there are no microphones and no boundaries. The research on the power of these systems in education is hugely compelling and is expected to even translate into better grades for students.”
Pernille Illum, project consultant with the A.P Møller Foundation, says: “We expect that the Constellation systems, in conjunction with other state-of-the-art AV technologies within the auditoria, will introduce the highest possible quality of sound. This will drive further developments in teaching and communication, benefitting students as well as international conferences. We expect these auditoria to become widely known and sought after for these unique qualities.”
“The systems also will support extended use of blended learning practices – known to help the study environment,” adds Lars Ole Munch Nissen, architect with the University of Copenhagen.
One lecture space was designed to facilitate group discussion and incorporates two projectors for presentation.
The flexible, open space can accommodate 220 people and incorporates a number of tables rather than traditional tiered seating. Here, Constellation can be used to isolate each table discussion so groups can work together without sound leaking to adjacent tables. In presentation mode, the system lifts the presenter’s voice to naturally deliver it to every space in the room.
The smallest of the three auditoriums uses Meyer Sound steerable column arrays and Panasonic LED projectors. Panasonic dome cameras capture proceedings, with feeds piped in to a Cisco lecture capture system.
Lecturers can gain access to the university system and their saved and shared content via a Wacom touchpanel located at the presentation podium at the front of the room. This position also offers VGA and HDMI inputs in case presenters prefer to link a laptop or device to the system as well as an Elmo L-12iD visualiser. Content can be annotated and manipulated via the Wacom display and projector screen content is controlled by a Smart Graphics interface.
Sennheiser wireless microphones are provided for presentation and were specifically requested by the university and used throughout the building. Jørgensen notes: “Biamp Tesira, using AVB, was selected for DSP and, once again, is used extensively in other areas.”
The space and content for presentation is controlled via an interface designed by Stouenborg and accessed with a Crestron touchpanel. The interface was designed to deliver operations with no more than five clicks. Using the touchpanel controls the lecturer can easily create a bespoke streamed output, selecting sources and camera angles to create useful materials for students after the lecture.
“The [AV] systems also will support extended use of blended learning practices – known to help the study environment.” Interfaces were designed with a focus group of university staff to ensure they were suited to their needs and were based on other devices the staff were used to using, such as iPhones.
Crestron DM systems handle each space with I/Os ranging from 8x8 to 32x32, for the largest lecture halls. The DM systems allow the spaces to be linked together to accommodate overspill when required and potentially accommodate an audience of 1,100.
Halls also have their own Crestron CP3 control system. TSL equipment handles power management and in case of surges or other power problems the system delivers email alerts and TSL MDUs power up and down the equipment in sequence.
Each auditorium also has its own control room and during a lecture can have a dedicated operator.
Sixteen small lecture rooms are located around and above the auditoriums. Each room can house 30 people and are designed so they are divisible into two separate spaces. Control in these rooms consists of a slightly simplified version of that offered in the lecture halls with the Crestron touchscreen replaced by Neets pushbutton control panels. Rooms house two large whiteboards, two projectors (Panasonic PT-VZ575NAJ) and two projection screens from Projecta. Audio is delivered via Work Pro loudspeakers.
Stouenborg cleverly integrated control and distribution equipment within a custom built desk, removing the need for central rack rooms and keeping signal distribution local to each classroom. Here, an Atlona matrix switcher (AT-UHD-CLSO-824) handles HDBaseT signal distribution and in-built mixing. The Atlona kit can handle streaming if required by the university in the future.
The desks themselves are built by Montana, a Danish furniture company, and offer motorised height adjustments to deliver comfort to teaching staff.
A trip up to the top of the tower reveals open spaces with floor-to-ceiling windows, offering a panoramic outlook on Copenhagen. This 15th floor area combines small meeting rooms, offices and break out spaces for PhD researchers and lecturers.
Technology has been designed to facilitate presentation and communication between teams with Panasonic projectors and Projecta screens, as well as two Microsoft Surface Hub units, available in meeting rooms and presentation spaces. Input panels allow researchers to share content from their laptops and devices via VGA or HDMI.
Sound reinforcement is delivered by a mixture of Meyer Sound’s Stella 8C ceiling speakers and MM-10 XPs
Meeting rooms on this floor set a template that is copied throughout the building. Two 65-in Panasonic TH-65-LFE8 LCDs are mounted side-by-side on Chief brackets.
Because the researchers and scientists are working with data sets it was essential they had two large screens, one for data visualisation and the other for videoconferencing. Web-based conferencing is currently the method of communication, but there are plans for a future dedicated Polycom system.
No expense was spared in the technology specification for this resource which extends the total floor space of the Panum Institute by 40%. AV systems have been chosen to accommodate modern learning styles and the content being discussed and researched by the faculty. But, the crowning achievement is clearly the three Constellation systems that transform the auditoriums from well-equipped spaces to cutting-edge learning environments. The opening of the building was phased to allow time for test-lectures and ensure all systems were up and running in perfect order before a grand royal opening in January 2017.
Meyer Sound loudspeakers, Constellation systems and D-Mitri processing
Sennhiser wireless microphones
Work Pro loudspeakers
Cisco lecture capture system
Elmo L-12iD visualisers
Panasonic LCD panels, LED projectors and dome cameras
Projecta projection screens
Microsoft Surface Hub
Atlona matrix switchers
Crestron DigitalMedia 3.0, touchpanels, CP3 control systems
Neets pushbutton control panels
Onelan Reserva room booking