AV helps Schüco change the way it works

The new Schüco corporate HQ has been specifically designed to encourage communication. Paul Milligan finds out how it was done.

The new corporate headquarters of windows and doors manufacturer Schüco in Bielefeld, Germany was design to meet the highest levels of design, functionality and sustainability. The new structure, called Schüco One, is the first building in the world to receive all three sustainability certifications from the LEED, BREEAM and DGNB (German Sustainable Building Council). It has been designed by Danish architectural practice 3XN around the themes of dialogue, communication and knowledge exchange. The sleek, curved building is home to 7,200 square metres of office space and features open workspaces to promote more efficient staff communication.

Jesper Bork, project director, 3XN, says the architecture of Schüco One will have a direct impact on staff behaviour: “I’m sure it will be easier for people to communicate and have informal discussions with one another, yet staff will also be free to change the way they work to suit their preferences and requirements.” Dotted around Schüco One are a wide selection of creative working spaces, where people can either work as part of a team or on their own. Fixed work stations are rare within the new building. Employees and/or teams can choose the area best suited to the current task they’re working on. Wherever they choose, they will have to pass through the central atrium, which creates a continuous flow of movement without any dead ends.

The campus is also home to the new Schüco Welcome Forum, the largest Schüco showroom in the world, and home to the most exciting AV elements of this project. The 4,650-square-metre visitor centre offers its guests a comprehensive insight into the world of Schüco. AV technology (the AV budget for this whole project was €1.7 million) is featured throughout and was designed by German AV consultants macom and installed by system integrators Beckhoff.

Working alongside the main contractor initially on Schüco One, macom then also worked with design agency Dart on the Welcome Forum. Here it was macom’s job to help the client tell the story of Schüco to existing and new customers alike. The plan didn’t deviate much from the very first client meetings says macom’s senior AV senior consultant Patrick Beckmann, apart from some minor changes in individual rooms and exhibits. The Welcome Forum is spread over two floors and 11 rooms of different sizes, ranging from a 20 square metre conference room to 1,800 square metre industrial hall with machines in it. “The Welcome Forum is the heart of Schüco, and this heart beats for our guests,” explains Andreas Engelhardt, managing partner, Schüco. The visitor centre is the first port of call on the Schüco Campus and a central hub for fabricators, clients, architects, investors and Schüco employees. A central foyer connects the five different areas: the Product Showroom, the Fabrication Showroom, the café, the Newsroom, and the meeting and workshop rooms, and gives visitors a panoramic view of the Schüco systems on display and installed on the campus.

The Product Showroom allows visitors to get up close and hands-on with all of the products for residential and commercial construction across approximately 800 square metres. The 8 metre-tall hall houses a total of 28 large exhibits and a further 45 display units covering the areas of health, security and smart. Schüco’s idea of a ‘healthy building’ can be seen in the displays for the sound reduction window, the antimicrobial surface protection, green façades, entrance, patio and sliding doors without thresholds, sun shading, screening and more. A Security section is represented by products such as fire-resistant and burglar-resistant systems. Visitors then move onto intelligent building control systems and networked products for smart living. A Service area highlights at Schüco’s after-sales service and training provision. 30 machines, of all sizes, can be seen in action across 2,000 square metres in the glazed Fabrication Showroom.

The Schüco team set up the production line to replicate the size of a typical metal fabrication operation. This means that guests will be able to experience in action the right machinery for them and their processes and see what a workshop tailored to their needs could look like. The Fabrication Showroom showcases the AS 100 continuous feed machining centre, which alone requires an area of around 160 square metres. Here the use of Iiyama touchscreens gives visitors the locations of the machines in the fabrication hall in 3D and helps them call up any technical details they would need, and show the benefits for fabricators, including videos and images of each of the machines themselves.

After the tour through the world of Schüco, the café and adjacent outdoor area provides a resting and socialising place for visitors. Next door is the Newsroom, where the Schüco brand is presented and questions about sustainability, reference projects, the company’s history and the campus are all answered. The Newsroom also features meeting and conference rooms so clients have a private space to discuss any queries with Schüco members of staff.

Tours are usually undertaken says Beckmann with a member of staff from Schüco but have also been designed so if they want to take a walk by themselves, information is
also at hand too. One of the most interesting aspects of the Welcome Forum can be found in an area used for events. It features an LED videowall at one end of the area. This doesn’t sound particularly interesting until you find out that the entire LED videowall can be moved to reveal another room behind it. The ‘hidden’ room features future products not released yet and prototypes (much like a whisper suite at a trade show does) for products that may or may not be built in the future, to gauge interest for any possible launches. The videowall is on a track and can be moved by hand, there was an initial fear that it wouldn’t be possible to be moved by just one person says Beckmann, but during testing it was found that it was pretty straightforward and could be manoeuvred fine.

So how did macom go about choosing the technology it did for the Welcome Forum? The technology was chosen during the initial planning phase, after the tender process had been completed there were no other changes made to the list. “We were very specific with the brands we wanted,” says Beckmann. “For the LED wall there was a shootout with the client, and they decided on a particular brand (Unilumin).” The displays were chosen because they could perform independently from light sources nearby. A Crestron DigitalMedia system transmits AV-over-IP signals across the Welcome Forum, and a Dante network handles the audio, with 60 devices installed, with a total of approximately 150 channels available if needed.

Dante gives the client flexibility says Beckmann, “For example, there is a counter at the entrance, and from the counter, they want to do announcements in different areas, Dante allows us to do this.”

Throughout the Welcome Forum visitors will find a Crestron touchpanel in each of the rooms. The workshop room can be set up as a single room or split into three different rooms using divisible walls, each one of these three parts has its own Crestron touch panel to control the room if needed. The workshops feature Sharp/NEC 98-in displays. You can connect your device in each room via a Crestron AV-over-IP receiver hidden in a floor panel.

All kit was tested on-site, and because macom had worked with the client before it had a good relationship with the on-site IT team, all AV sits on a separate VLAN. Testing took place over one month, in which most issues were able to be sorted out says Beckmann. The integrator Beckhoff has a service contract going forward to help with any tech problems should they arise. 

KIT LIST

Atlona AT-JUNO-451 and AT-OME-ST31A HDMI switchers
Barco Clickshare
Crestron DigitalMedia encoders/decoders and scalers, switchers, wall-mounted control processors, TST-902 and TSW-770 tabletop touchscreens
Crown DCi 8 600DA amplifiers
Easescreen PC
Fohhn AS-10 subwoofers, Linea Focus DLI-130 and LX-100 loudspeakers, MA-4.600 amplifiers
Icron Ranger 2301 USB extenders
Iiyama TF4338MSC 43-in touch displays, TF6539 64-in touch displays
JBL Control 14C/T, 18C/T and 19CS loudspeakers, PSB-1 soundbars
Meyer Sound MM-10 subwoofer, MM-4XP and MPS-488HP loudspeakers
NEC/Sharp M551 PCAP touch display, M651 MultiSync 65-in display, MultiSync V754Q 75-in display, V864Q IBG videowall, V984Q 98-in display, PN-V701 70in display
Poly X50, Poly X70 videobars
Radio Design Labs BTN40 Dante interface
Sennheiser EM 300-500 G4-BW handheld transmitters
Symetrix Prism 0x0 and Prism 4x4 DSP processors
Yamaha QL1 Dante mixer
Unilumin LED tiles


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