Visitor attraction rises from ruins after painstaking renovation

When Zadar County in Croatia renovated an ancient part of a Venetian fortress it turned to AVC Group to add multimedia systems that would bring the significant site to life for thousands of visitors. Anna Mitchell reports.

Built in 1243, the Mali Arsenal is part of a fortress located in the north part of the old town peninsular in Zadar, Croatia. It was built for the Venetian army and, over the years, has fallen in to disrepair and been rebuilt, serving multiple purposes. 

In 2016, its fortunes changed when the Zadar County, fuelled with EU funding, started a project to completely renovate the landmark. 

“It was basically a ruin at that time, an archaeological site” says Edin Karamehmedovic COO at integration firm AVC. “It was first renovated and rebuilt, we came in at the end of the story to install AV and multimedia systems.” 

AB Forum acted as the architect on the project and Revolucija designed multimedia systems that would bring the archaeology to life and add moving pictures and interactivity to the site. 

“Our visitor centre heavily uses a multimedia system whose main purpose is to interactively present old archaeological finds and show the development of the city walls in four different time periods,” elaborates Lovro Jurišić from Zadar County. 
“The system can also be managed remotely. It’s all very easy to control.”

After answering a public tender, AVC was chosen to work on the project and installed the multimedia systems. This was quite a challenge given the age of the building and the protections that were placed on it by conservation authorities. All equipment had to be installed in a way that would not interfere with the building and had to contend with high humidity levels. 

At the heart of the system is an interactive Panasonic projection system with synchronised sound. Using a rear-projection technique, content is beamed onto glass displays measuring 460cm x 240cm and 400cm x 300cm and covered in Pro Display intelligent glass foil. One screen hangs from the side wall, while the other creates an iterative floor display. 

There was limited space in the Mali Arsenal, and AVC Group had to custom make the projector support and mirror system. The building didn’t include one single 90-degree angle, adding a further structural challenge for the integrator. 

The projector for the floor visuals was mounted in a hole that was part of the structure of the building. Initial drawings showed the hole as much deeper than it turned out to be after the floor had been recovered and layers of glaze had been added to prevent water leakage. This reality meant the size of the calculated mirror was initially too small. 

When visitors enter, the glass is transparent, allowing them to see the building behind. They are detected by Bosch PIR sensors, which instruct the AMX control system to dim the lights. When the lights are lowered the glass is switched to non-transparent mode and the projectors fire up. 

The vertical projection uses a Panasonic PT- RZ970 projector, fed by a Spinetix HMP300 player to show a 3D animated film of the development of the city through history. The floor projection is interactive and uses a Microsoft v2 Kinect sensor to provide gesture control. Kinect detects the movement of the visitors and changes the content of the projection in relation to their position. 

The system is powered by an HP Z440 and uses Extron HDMI and USB 3.0AVC Small Arsenal 4 (1) extension. 

Audio, played out through Genelec loudspeakers, is synchronised with the projections. A Genelec 8010 studio monitor is used alongside the vertical projection, while the floor projection is supported by four Genelec 8020 studio monitors and a 7050 studio subwoofer. When the projection show is finished, the lights raise and the intelligent glass switches back to being transparent. Further interactivity is delivered with two Planar PCT2485 touchscreens powered by two Intel NUC computers. 

The whole set up is controlled by an AMX system based on the company’s NX-1200 NetLinx NX integrated controller with DALI gateway, AXB-REL8/230 relay controller to handle glass control and a MET-7 seven button panel. An Apple iPad was also supplied to access control functions. 

One of the client’s key requirements was that control was simple to use for the staff that would fire up the systems before opening each day. 

“The system can also be managed remotely,” adds Karamehmedovic. “It’s all very easyAVC Small arsenal 2 (1) to control. Someone can come in the morning and turn it on, someone turns it off in the evening and everything else is automatic.” 

The surrounding areas of the Mali Arsenal have been fitted with 18 beacons so that visitors can install an application on their phone and discover more about the history of the site. 

The attraction opened in April 2017 and AVC is still on hand offering service, support and maintenance. Karamehmedovic says visitor feedback has been overwhelmingly positive which is backed up by his client. 

“Before and during this summer [2017], our visitor centre hosted many tourists and locals who were delighted by the experience. Last but not least, let’s not forget to mention how easy it was to control the system, even for non- technical staff,” confirms Jurišić.  


Genelec 8010 and 8020 studio monitors and 7050 subwoofer 

Extron HDMI extender, Icron USB 3.0 extender 
Panasonic PT-RZ970 projectors 
Planar PCT2485 touchscreens 
Pro Display intelligent glass foil 
Spinetix HMP300 player 

AMX NX-100 with DALI gateway, AXB-REL8/230 relay controller and MET- 7 push button panel 
Apple iPad 
Bosch PIR sensors 
Intel NUC computers 
Microsoft Kinect v2 sensor workstation

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