Landmark innovation at Durham

Durham is a modern leading university, a dynamic institution with an international community and thrusting academic ambitions. It sets its standards high – and so chose Visavvi to implement a ‘landmark’ collaborative technology installation. 

State-of-the-art collaboration technology

Leading video conferencing facilities

Campus-wide content sharing

Challenge

We were challenged to deliver a new generation of interactive collaboration at Durham. Bringing learning spaces to life is a speciality of ours, so we came at the project with clear ambitions. Our intention is always to liberate students and academics from cumbersome interaction so they can focus on their objectives. High levels of seamless, collaborative participation are what we aim for.

The focus for the project was the Calman Learning Centre, the university’s main lecture theatre complex on its Mountjoy science site. As a preferred supplier with the regional university purchasing consortium, we have a longstanding relationship with Durham. We were delighted to win the contract to equip the centre with a complete range of advanced integrated audio visual systems.

In a building such as this, which hosts large scale teaching and high profile events and with a small AV team supporting teaching spaces across the university, it is vital that we install systems that are flexible and highly reliable – and this has been delivered excellently."
Each classroom and lecture theatre was enabled for high-definition content sharing with state-of-the-art AV technology.

Solution

Our project delivery was carefully configured to meet the exacting specifications provided by Durham's audio visual team. With the Calman Centre housing the largest teaching spaces on whole of the university campus, the scope of the project was significant. Our focus was on three dedicated lecture theatres, as well as two large teaching rooms with wide windows and panoramic views of beautiful Durham.

Panasonic PT-RZ12 12,000 lumens laser projectors provides the highest-quality digital content
A bespoke JM Supplies DDA Graduate lectern houses a WolfVision desktop visualiser, Crown power amplifiers and Sennheiser Speechline Digital and G3 radio mics for professional-grade presentations.

Lecture theatre

We designed lecture theatre solutions featuring the latest in state-of-the-art display, control and collaboration technology, which included:

  • Panasonic PT-RZ12 12,000 lumens laser projectors
  • Extra bright Panasonic 75” LED panels and AMX Enova DGX 1600 digital media switcher systems DGX system incorporating DXLink twisted pair capability allowing audio, video, control and power to DXLink HDMI receivers
  • This provides the highest quality digital content to screens and projectors

Each theatre was also provided with:

  • A bespoke JM Supplies DDA Graduate lectern housing a WolfVision desktop visualiser, Crown power amplifiers and Sennheiser Speechline Digital and G3 radio mics
  • JBL line array speaker systems for perfectly aligned sound distribution
  • Separate video cameras for lecture capture and video conferencing
  • Video conference facilities handled by Polycom RealPresence Group 700 systems, with EagleEye camera systems

The AMX touch control panels feature bespoke programmed user interfaces for the AMX room control systems. Complementing the digital display technologies, teacher board systems were removed and replaced with 3.5m wide triple column dry-wipe boards.

The AMX touch control panels with bespoke programming provide complete control over all the technologies in the room.

Teaching rooms

Two smaller top floor teaching rooms were equipped with:

  • Panasonic SOLID SHINE technology 7200 lumens projectors and motorised 2.5m screens
  • This provides a high level of brightness, essential in the strong ambient light from the windows
  • Two 55” LCD screens acting as repeaters to the main screens allowing students complete line of sight no matter where they are located
  • Two further Panasonic 65” screens on the rear wall acting as presenter comfort monitors and showing content during video conference calls
  • Mounted next to the eagle eye cameras this is perfect during live calls as the presenter naturally looks towards the LCD screen when addressing the remote participants to maintain authentic eye contact
  • Harman AMX SVSI transmission systems with the same switching, control, audio and video conferencing technology as the lecture theatres
Harman AMX SVSI transmission systems allow content can be sent around the building via the structured cabling network.

Campus-wide content sharing

This was the first time the university had used audio visual rather than internet protocol technology. The benefit is that content can be sent around the building via the structured cabling network, with encoding and decoding provided by the latest Harman AMX SVSI system. Thanks to our expertise, we were able to blend technology from multiple manufacturers into a seamless, easily-controlled environment. Its power is proven when lecture theatres are oversubscribed. Live presentations, complete with PowerPoint content and audio can be shared by up to 1,100 participants in any of the rooms.

When there is a need for overflow, lectures and events can be hosted anywhere and sent to different rooms and displayed on multiple LCD screens.

Outcome

The systems have provided Durham University with a fantastic, flexible solution for events and teaching. Custom programming makes everything really simple to use. Lectures and events can be hosted anywhere and sent to different rooms when there is need for overflow. Technically, the result is a landmark installation and a milestone in Visavvi's long and proud association with the university.

Crispin Bloomfield, IT Business Partner for Education at Durham, was full of praise. “Months of planning and technical work went into the project,” he said. "Visavvi worked with us to overcome some infrastructure challenges that required clever solutions, plus they faced a very tight window to turn this flagship teaching building around. It was flawlessly executed, on time and on budget.”

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