Making history: landmark installation at Parliament of Malta
Its inauguration was declared “a milestone in Malta’s history” by the President of Malta, yet installing AV at the Malta’s first purpose-built parliament building presented many challenges. Charlotte Ashley uncovers how integrator Telmaco overcame them to achieve success at the 2016 InAVation Awards.
Co-ordination was key when integrator Telmaco called on an international team of over 30 people to deliver a discreet AV system to the Parliament of Malta’s new headquarters over three years. Carefully designed with consultant Arup and architects from Renzo Piano Building Workshop, the installation was such a feat that it beat entries from Dubai and the UK to win the government facility category at this year’s InAVation Awards.
Extensive planning of AV was required after the Maltese government decided to develop the City Gate in Malta’s capital in 2010. The government invested €90million in transforming a 23,000-square-metre space with two interconnecting stone and steel buildings (a parliament building and open-air theatre) and public areas designed by architect Renzo Piano. Contracted by construction company GHRC (Grand Harbour Regeneration Corporation), Greek integrator Telmaco won a tender process to oversee the design, supply, installation, commissioning and support of a congress, HD video capture and multi-lingual audio reinforcement system at the new headquarters.
It was vital Telmaco nurtured productive relationships with architect Renzo Piano and Arup – who served as both MEP consultants and advisors on room acoustics and AV – during the project. With so many stakeholders involved with the high-profile project serving the House of Representatives and Malta’s President, its design was one of the most significant challenges for Telmaco. “The design process was very demanding in two aspects: functionality and aesthetics.” says Vassilis Kyriazis, general director of sales and management at Telmaco. This included creating numerous drawings and samples of bespoke housing pieces and control faceplates. He continues: “Both RPBW and Arup had to approve the design from an aesthetical, technical and operational aspect.”
“Both the Renzo Piano Building Workshop and Arup had to approve the design from an aesthetical, technical and operational aspect.”
Telmaco also had to organise the project’s implementation team from an early stage to ensure all areas of the installation would be completed to the government’s tight schedule. They helped the team interface with the MEP and finishing contractors, whilst liaising with consultants. David Abela, MEP package manager at Bovis Lend Lease notes: “Telmaco was continually liasing with the other trades to deliver the final product to the high level required by the architect.”
Telmaco deployed AV across the main chamber, two committee rooms, two meeting rooms, offices and public spaces. Both the lower garden committee and the third floor committee room feature a set up of one or more of Barco’s PFWU-51B WUXGA projectors and dnp 84-in Supernova projection screens, with the latter able to be divided for separate use of projectors.
“The projector and screens for all committee rooms are used for displaying presentations, video conferences and video show relay. Both rooms allow for video signal to be relayed via the video router allowing the participants in the meeting to view an ongoing session in the building or any other video feed,” explains Kyriazis.
A building-wide Exterity IPTV system controls televisions located around the building. Screens often stream video feeds from the main chambers and committee rooms and information channels incorporating dZine digital signage players which show the agenda of the day to visitors.
Panasonic PTZ cameras were installed so the government can broadcast video feeds of events.This is linked to the conference system via the control system to provide automatic microphone switching and graphic insertion of speaker name and the topic of discussion. For special sessions, staff can manually operate production through a Panasonic vision mixer.
Streaming and archiving of plenary and committee sessions is provided by an Arbor Media LogDepot system. This features two systems: one for browsing of material by MPs and staff, and another based on Connected Views allowing external users to browse and follow sessions live.
Central to the installation is a Shure DIS DCS 6000 congress system in the main chamber where parliamentary meetings take place, featuring custom stainless steel delegate units and custom speakers designed by RPBW. Mobile congress systems are also available to staff in the committee rooms for smaller events.
All rooms are equipped with a touch panel automation system based on CUE technology which provides control of equipment and access to custom-created automation functions. From the panel, operators can easily communicate with the congress system, voice evacuation system and video systems, as well as control privacy in the main chamber.
Sound is amplified via extensive DSP processing through Biamp AudiaFLEX, with additional K-Array speakers providing audio coverage in the gallery and visitor area. With audio relay transmitted via Cobranet linked to the congress system and ambient microphones, MPs or staff can listen to sessions in most rooms as they take place. Bosch Praesideo technology manages the building’s VA system, linked to the audio show relay to deliver an emergency announcement to all areas if needed.
Telmaco made staff a part of the installation process. Kyriazis says: “Under our contract there was a provision for two weeks of dedicated training, but we also proposed to the end user to be involved in all stages of the onsite phases. Thus the end user would at times spend time viewing all the equipment installations and commissioning allowing them to get a better overview of the systems.” Government staff were also able to have a hands-on practice with the technology in a demo congress room set up at government’s old premises to ease the transition into the new building.
Summarising what lead to the project’s award-winning status, Jonathan Mizzi, management information systems officer at the Parliament of Malta says: “During the implementation of the project Telmaco went above and beyond to accommodate new requests that arose, and they always tried to do this without adding additional costs.” He adds: “Following the handing over of the project, support was always provided in a timely manner, even when required outside of normal office hours.”
Biamp AudiaFlex digital audio platform
Bosch Praesideo VA system
K-array KT20 and KT22 speakers
Penton RCS6 ceiling speakers
Shure DCS 6000 digital conference system
Arbor Media LogDepot streaming and recording system and Media Connected Views system
Barco PFWU 51B projectors
CUE touch panel control system
Dnp Supernova projection screens
dZine digital signage
Exterity IPTV system
Extron FOX fiber extension system
Grass Valley Nvision 8500 hybrid router
Panasonic AW-HE60S PTZ cameras