Durham University

New AV systems for Durham University

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Durham University is distinctive a residential collegiate with long traditions and modern values seeking the highest distinction in research and scholarship, and is committed to excellence in all aspects of education. As a proud international community, it is Durham’s aim to reflect the ambitions of cultures from all over the world.

The Calman Centre is the main lecture theatre complex on the university's science-based Mountjoy site. As a preferred supplier within the NEUPC framework, Saville Audio Visual was awarded the contract to equip the centre with a range of new, integrated audio visual systems.

The proposed solutions were carefully configured to meet the specifications provided by the Durham's AV team. Technically, the result is a landmark installation and a milestone in Saville's longstanding association with the university.

The newly equipped Calman Learning Centre houses the largest teaching spaces on the university campus, comprising three dedicated lecture theatres plus two large teaching rooms on the top floor. With windows on all sides, these rooms offer stunning panoramic views of Durham.

Durham University

Lecture Theatres

Designed by Saville, the lecture theatre solutions each feature the latest in state-of-the-art display, control and collaboration technology. These include Panasonic PT-RZ12 12,000 lumens laser projectors, extra bright Panasonic 75” LED panels and AMX Enova DGX 1600 digital media switcher systems. The DGX system also incorporates DXLink twisted pair capability allowing audio, video, control and power to DXLink HDMI receivers over Cat cabling providing the highest quality digital content to the screens and projectors.

Each theatre is 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, plus JBL line array speaker systems for perfectly aligned sound distribution. Separate video cameras are installed for lecture capture and video conferencing. The VC facilities are handled by Polycom RealPresence Group 700 systems, with EagleEye camera systems.

Durham University

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

Teaching Rooms

Durham University

The two smaller classrooms located on the top floor were equipped to a slightly different specification, featuring Panasonic SOLID SHINE technology 7200 lumens projectors and motorised 2.5m screens. This combination provides a high level of brightness, essential in the strong ambient light from the windows. These are complemented by two 55” LCD screens which act as repeaters to the main screens allowing students complete line of sight no matter where they are located in the room. Two further Panasonic 65” screens mounted on the rear wall act as presenter comfort monitors whilst showing far end and content during video conference calls. Mounted next to the eagle eye cameras this is a perfect fit during a live call as the presenter naturally looks toward the LCD screen when addressing the remote caller, maintaining an authentic conversational style.

Harman AMX SVSI transmission systems were also installed along with the same switching, control, audio and video conferencing technology as the lecture theatres, completing a comprehensive and totally coordinated facility.

Connected infrastructure - AV over IP

Significantly, this is the first time the university has used AV over IP technology. This enables content to be sent from one room to another, using the building’s Cat structured cabling network with encoding and decoding provided via the latest Harman AMX SVSI system.

This is particularly useful when a lecture theatre is oversubscribed, enabling a live lecture presentation complete with PowerPoint content and audio to be shared with any of the other rooms AV systems - allowing up to 1,100 delegates to view the same presentation.

The AMX SVSI systems installed in the main teaching building has provided Durham University with a fantastic, flexible solution for events and teaching. The custom AMX programming makes the system really simple to use, allowing lectures and events to be hosted in any room in the building, additionally any or all of the other rooms can receive a feed when needed for overflow.

Commenting on how the system has helped the technical team, AV Team Lead, Chris Pearson explained:

"In a building such as the Calman Learning Centre, 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 - the AMX SVSI system has delivered this requirement excellently.”

The Calman Learning Centre with the new interconnected rooms and extensive presentation facilities, plus onsite Café and catering facilities also becomes the ideal venue for any prominent conferences and events.

Speaking about the installation, Crispin Bloomfield, IT Business Partner for Education at Durham said:

“Months of planning and technical work went into the project. Saville 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. Flawlessly executed, on time and on budget.”

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