University of Warwick - The Oculus-
Introducing the University of Warwick’s flagship teaching building
A £19M flagship teaching building, The Oculus at University of Warwick is an impressive sight. This stunning building was designed exclusively for its purpose as the university’s first completely dedicated teaching structure. It boasts two auditoriums, 12 state-of-the-art flexible teaching spaces, and a number of social learning and network spaces.
Situated at the heart of University of Warwick’s Central Campus, this characteristic structure was designed in a unique way. Whereas the usual method would involve designing the building with the interior in mind initially, The Oculus involved designing the outer shell of the building first and then the architects had the challenge of situating each of the rooms inside the structure. The result is an eye-catching building that will understandably serve as the university’s top space for teaching and events for the foreseeable future.
GV Multimedia and the integration of AV at Warwick
As AV integrators, GV Multimedia has enjoyed a long, healthy relationship with The University of Warwick for well over a decade. A number of years ago, GV was granted sole supplier status for LOT2 (supply and installation) and LOT3 (full system design) frameworks. Since receiving this accolade, the Coventry team’s projects at Warwick have included the rollout of digital signage across all campuses as well as the introduction of a complete AV system into Warwick Business School’s new facility at The Shard in London. Recently, the team has integrated AV systems to a variety of spaces to serve as pilot rooms to roll out throughout the entire establishment if successful. With the aim to standardise AV throughout the University of Warwick, GV’s installations provided the customer with what was required, and the team was once again commissioned to provide the exact system that University of Warwick required for their brand new, impressive teaching space. The Oculus is the next step towards the university’s vision of a uniform, AV system throughout its facilities.
With Technical Project Manager Matthew Price and the Coventry team having provided the University of Warwick with comprehensive AV for such a long time, GV’s challenge for the building was less about adhering to the tastes of the customer and more to ensure that the AV suitably provided the functionality and flexibility required in such a prestigious venue and indeed reflected and complimented the impression given off by The Oculus.
Delivering consistency in a building designed for flexible teaching
Entering The Oculus, visitors are greeted with a stunning 4K video wall featuring a wealth of digital artistic content and maps for wayfinding. Many slides created for the panels incorporate the design of the wooden surround for an impressive aesthetic touch. The video wall involves four NEC X981UHD panels arranged in portrait orientation.
To the right of the video wall is a UTouch 4K SST touch screen panel that offers more detailed wayfinding as well as historical information about the building.
Situated through both floors of the building, the 12 flexible seminar rooms offer Sony data projection, via VPL-FHZ65 models, with smaller rooms using one unit projecting onto a TK Team wet wipe projection surface while larger rooms use two or three electric projection screens dependent on size. Each space features a fully integrated TeamMate Educator Series 2 Single/Twin (depending on the space) lectern that includes laptop connectivity, a WolfVision VZ-3 Neo visualiser, Sennheiser Speech Line lapel radio mics, a fixed PC, and an Extron TLP Pro 1022TG touch screen display. Writing surfaces used throughout the flexible teaching spaces include TK Team glassboards and projection boards as well as writable cupboard doors, with the latter not being provided by GV Multimedia.
The Oculus is host to a pair of auditoriums. The 250 person OC0.03 lecture theatre is situated on the ground floor and includes a fully integrated height-adjustable TeamMate Air that features an expanded array of equipment to the seminar rooms. In addition to the standard setup, the theatre also includes a pair of handheld Sennheiser Speech Line radio microphones and confidence monitoring provided by Sony SRG-360 cameras. The teaching desk also features an additional visualiser to display multiple materials at once and providing an almost continuous view across both viewing areas of the units.
The highlights of this suite however, are the edge blended dual Panasonic PT-RZ970 projectors displaying on a vast 8x3m screen. With Extron control, the academic is able to use this screen to display a number of sources in a variety of ways.
Upstairs, on the first floor, is the most impressive space within The Oculus – the 500 seat OC1.05 auditorium. Featuring much of the same equipment as the smaller lecture theatre, the OC1.05 also includes an additional backup projector. All projection is displayed on a 10.8x4m screen that dwarfs most teaching spaces (and many cinemas too). Note: the projectors in this space are 3chip DLP PT-RZ12K.
Every teaching space within the building features Echo 360 lecture capture facilities housed within the teaching desks. The system used is a scheduled and adheres to room timetables rather than facilitate adhoc recording - thus ensuring that all lectures are available online at the correct time. Broadcasting ‘on air’ information is provided by an LED light on top of the desks to alert the academic when they’re live or in the event that their radio mic isn’t being picked up.
Each of the areas also includes a Solstice wireless collaboration system to allow BYOD connectivity for the academics and, potentially, the students. Each room also features ONELAN’s Reserva room booking which is compatible with University of Warwick’s existing Syllabus Plus system for timetabling purposes.
Finally The Oculus caters for any hard-of-hearing individuals with an Ampetronic infrared assistive hearing system. While many spaces typically utilise induction loops for any audiences with hearing loss, the layout of The Oculus means that the laying of copper tape would cause crosstalk issues for any rooms stacked on top of one another. As such, GV and Ampetronic opted for a brand new Listen iDSP IR system that would provide hearing assistance for those within a line of sight of the transmission unit. The system was successfully trialled in another space within the university to ensure its suitability and the GV Multimedia Coventry team consulted with Ampetronic in advance to test the product’s capabilities at GV’s Midlands office. The result has been a successful installation of the biggest Ampetronic IR system to date. Please visit Ampetronic’s website at www.ampetronic-audio-solutions.co for more information on this element of the project.
University of Warwick and GV Multimedia: on working together
Having worked with GV for a decade, Jonathan Owen of Warwick’s AV Services has a good working relationship with the Coventry team – in particular with Matt Price. He’s understandably pleased with what they’ve achieved together at The Oculus.
"As head of AV at Warwick, I’ve worked closely with GV Multimedia for over 10 years using a number of different purchasing frameworks and awarded them our AV Equipment Supply and Installation contract in April 2016. Over the past few years my team and I have worked tirelessly to raise the quality of the AV provision across campus and Matt and the Coventry team have worked closely with us to achieve this goal. The Coventry team’s ability and desire to exceed expectations meant that they were well suited to the installation of such a comprehensive system in our new Oculus Building, despite being faced with a number of unique challenges during the design and build phases. I’m delighted with the result of the Oculus Building and believe it sets a new standard for teaching and learning spaces at Warwick. GV should be equally pleased with what we’ve achieved and I look forward to working with them on future projects."
The GV Multimedia team are also proud of everything achieved on this challenging project and its establishment as the benchmark for AV at the University of Warwick. Matt Price said:
"Having worked with University of Warwick for over ten years, we’ve installed a number of systems of which we are particularly proud. However, The Oculus is a standout project for the team. The challenge of integrating a complex and uniform system throughout 15 spaces has been a welcome one in that we’ve had the opportunity to deliver such a comprehensive system to one of our most valued customers. The Oculus is as much a highlight of GV’s portfolio as it is Warwick’s and we are delighted at the positive reception that our work has received from visitors as well as our own team. I’d like to extend my thanks to Jonathan and his team for all of their assistance and collaboration on this project. We look forward to working with Warwick again in the near future."
The Oculus stands as one of GV’s most impressive installations to date. The entire team is pleased to have provided one of their most valued customers with a system that suitably reflects the University of Warwick’s well-deserved reputation.