Padova Congress opens with high-tech AV to support meetings and conferences

The new conference centre in Italy’s picturesque city of Padua takes inspiration from the city’s historic past, while offering conferencing and meeting technologies fit for the future. Mike Clark reports.

Padova Congress is the north-eastern Italian city of Padua’s new leading-edge conference centre. Designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who designed the Japan National Stadium, the grand stage and centrepiece of the Tokyo 2020 Summer Olympics, the Italian venue’s lines were inspired by Padua’s numerous elegant porticos.

Mantegna Room with partition walls and motorised video screens moving into place

The cityhas always been an attractive location for scientific and corporate events thanks toits central position in North East Italy and its prestigious university. Padova Congress will host national and international conferences, many of which will be in the medical and research sectors, or other fields linked with the university, company conventions, corporate events and more.

The university is one of Italy’s largest and oldest (founded in 1222), and its eminent alumni include Erasmus from Rotterdam; Nicolaus Copernicus; William Harvey, discoverer of blood circulation; and Elena Cornaro Piscopia, the first woman in the world to graduate in a university. Galileo Galilei taught mathematics there. It’s therefore no surprise that many of the venue’s events will feature the world of science and research.

Padova Congress’s two main rooms (capacity 1,600 and 988) and five multifunction auxiliary rooms (total capacity 750) offer organisers an impressive array of AV and multimedia technology to ensure their events leave a lasting impression on attendees. There is also a 100-seat press room and of the five smaller fully equipped interconnected auxiliary rooms, four can seat 126 but can also be divided into two smaller rooms, while the fifth is able to seat 180. Facilities also include a 1,000-space car park and the proximity to the Padua expo centre (managed by the same company). This means that it also is possible to make use of its services and halls for events if necessary.

Vittadello (now CO.GE.VI) won the tender as main contractor with Kuma’s design and the sub-contractor that won the tender for the multimedia installation work was system integrator Mosaico Group.

Since the original design was drawn up by an international architecture studio, as is often the case, quite some time passed between when the tender was won and the run-up to installation work, with the result that a considerable amount of the technology originally considered had become dated, particularly as far as AV was concerned.    So, at an advanced stage of the work, AV consultant Stefano De Troia was called in by the general manager of owner Padova Hall (Fiera di Padova at that time) to carry out a technological upgrade of the AV project, altering it considerably as far as the type of technology used was concerned (LED instead of the usual projectors, and AV over IP). This inevitably led to a budget increase, but the client realised the importance of the changes and approved them

Mantegna Room with control room windows on RH wall

Roberto Tramarin, senior sales director with system integrator Mosaico Group, whose work on complex high-tech content includes The Unesco Salle X in Paris and Novara and Parma university campuses), has long-standing experience in the electronic and telecom technology market, including participation in the design and realisation of the largest conference centre in the Mediterranean, located in Algeri. Through the company’s Padua branch Tramarin followed every phase of the work.

Mosaico developed the working plans from De Troia’s designs, followed the installation and will ensure support for the first two years after start-up.

Giotto Room with control room windows on LH wall 

De Troia confirmed the Bose audio equipment was originally planned throughout. “When I arrived, an acoustic simulation had already been done with Bose RoomMatch arrays, which ensure immersive sound coverage, in spite of the size of the main halls. However, I added low-profile monitors and Dante stage connections to ensure greater adaptability.”

The Bose arrays were chosen for their flexibility and ability to provide precise, constant directivity coverage and ensure consistent tonal balance for different room shapes and acoustic requirements.

Other audio upgrades included Yamaha TF1 digital mixing consoles and Sennheiser SpeechLine digital wireless microphones, both being versatile and useful, bearing in mind the possibility of dividing the two main rooms into separate independent sections.

De Troia also specified a Televic language distribution /simultaneous translation system, which runs over Dante, fundamental for its integration with rest of the project.

Although a network was already included in the original project, it didn’t foresee complete AV distribution over IP. De Troia therefore expanded it considerably to reach this objective and the impressive hub with its Cisco switches and transceivers is located at the centre of the complex’s basement floor.

One of the peculiarities of this project was the two main rooms’ use of large fine-pitch Samsung LED screens instead of video projection, since the former is often rejected by clients for budgetary reasons. This was in fact the first time De Troia had specified LED screens, particularly such large ones. It was also the first time that for the management of video content he’d used Barco’s E2 Gen2 presentation system, which he found ideal for this type of application.Enrico Martin, technical and operations manager with Padova Hall, the company managing Padua Expo Centre and Padova Congress, explains, “Our new venue is extremely adaptable, enabling us to satisfy every client’s needs, with a total seating capacity of approximately 3,500 and a main conference room able to accommodate 1,565 attendees. This main room - the Giotto - can be transformed into three rooms on three levels, each hosting independent events. The seating on the bottom level is also entirely removeable, enabling it to be rapidly converted into a large open space for gala evenings, road shows, etc.”

The Samsung LED wall in the Giotto room is the largest in Europe for this type of application (15.36m x 8.64m) with native 4K resolution, and two smaller (4.8m x 2.7 m) screens are installed below it. In the Mantegna Room (the centre’s other main room), four Samsung screens, installed side by side but able to be managed separately, provide a highly flexible format. They also have an extremely effective scenographic impact, thanks to the curved extremities of their total 20m width, and ensure attendees’ interest remains focused on the speakers on stage.

When the two large rooms are divided, the visuals in the various sections are courtesy of Panasonic 13,000 and 16,000 lumen projectors and ScreenLine motorised screens. The original video control setup was boosted with Barco E2 4K screen management systems and Dexon matrix switchers.

The Mantegna room (named after the famous Renaissance painter, born near Padua) has 988 seats and, thanks to its sound-proofed mobile partition walls, it too can be transformed into three rooms (on two floors), each holding independent events and equipped with its own large, motorised video screens.

One of the key particularities of the Padua project was the flexible multi-function possibility ensured by the main rooms, which don’t lose their appeal even when divided, thus enabling the hosting of any type of event, from the most simple, managed with speakers’ touch screens, to those with a true live event control setup. The small rooms can also host totally independent meetings involving both on-site participants and others taking part remotely, via wireless connections to the speaker’s device thanks to Barco ClickShare hybrid conferencing systems.

Signal distribution is over IP, thanks to AMX encoders and decoders, which De Troia had used successfully in many applications in the past.

In fact, as well as the Sony 4K HD PTZ cameras for video coverage of the events, video mixers, digital audio consoles, on-stage audio distro boxes, stage monitors, etc. are all connected with the venue’s network (audio over Dante). This also enables attendees in the smaller rooms to follow events elsewhere in the centre.

De Troia enthuses: “What I like about this project is that it can respond to practically to any request from conference industry clients, combining simplicity of use, functionality, quality, flexibility and scalability. In this field there isn’t much to invent, but I think that having an entire conference centre with signal routing OverIP is unique in Italy.” 

Tramarin confirms, “The AMX integrated control system runs entirely on a dedicated fibre network with Cisco switches and video coverage is courtesy of Sony’s remote-controlled cameras. In short, the result is a leading-edge system architecture open to all future implementation.”

In fact, from a technical point of view, Padova Congress puts cutting-edge facilities at clients’ disposal, as far as building automation, Wi-Fi connectivity and AV facilities are concerned. The top-grade technology, among the other aspects should convince potential clients to stage their events at Padova Congress. Martin explains that the importance of logistics should never be underestimated: “We’re easily reached from the nearby motorway network and the railway station. Another factor to be taken into consideration as far as after-conference events are concerned is that the venue is just a few minutes’ walk from the old town centre, dating back to medieval times, with its countless sites of historical importance and artistic beauty, including the Scrovegni Chapel, whose world-famous frescos are by Giotto, after whom the conference centre’s main room takes its name.”


Bose RoomMatch array modules and subwoofers, RMU frontfill and DesignMax in-ceiling speakers, Control Space EX-1280C digital mixers, Control Space EX-8ML Dante interfaces, PM 4500N, PM 8500N and PS404D amplifiers
Shure CVG12DRS gooseneck mics
Sennheiser SL handheld mics, body packs and headset and Speechline Digital Wireless receivers
Televic Lingua simultaneous translation system
Yamaha TF1 digital mixing consoles

Barco small event controllers and Clickshare wireless conferencing systems
Blackmagic Design Atem Television Studio HD, Multiviews, Smart video hub and Hyper Deck Studios Mini
Dexon DIMAX804K small presentation switchers
Epson projectors
Extron NetPA U 1004 and XPA U 1002 amplifiers, DTP for HDMI transmitters and SMP111 multimedia processors
Panasonic PT-RZ 120 and PT-MZ-16L projectors
PRODVX 10-in touch screens
Samsung IE040R and IE025 LED walls, business monitors and 4K ultra-HD displays
ScreenLine motorised screens
Sony SRG-X400 HD cameras (4K) and RM-IP10 remote camera controller
VHD V60UL HD PTZ cameras
Wolfvision VZ-8neo desktop visualizer

AMX Netlinx controllers and video-over-IP encoders and decoders
Cisco switches and transceivers

Image credits: Chiara Grossi & Ione Cappellaro

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