Since its opening in 1929, Rhodes House has been an Oxford, UK, landmark, a historic Grade II listed country house in the heart of the city. Renowned for weddings and high profile events and visitors, the need for modernisation was recognised and the venue embarked on a comprehensive £38million refurbishment journey, which culminated in the creation of a modern conference and convening centre packed with AV tech.
The goal of the renovation was to establish the premier events and conferencing venue in Oxford, catering to educational events, weddings, and corporate functions. Darren Gatenby, senior consultant at Hewshott, and lead technology consultant on the project, closely collaborated with the client and stakeholders to craft a design that fulfilled all requirements.
Incorporating a number of different spaces, the venue comprises the main 280-seat convening hall plus a number of smaller rooms and a garden pavilion. “Originally the rooms were essentially echo tunnels, the challenge was to address the acoustic issues within these spaces, making a robust audio infrastructure that was infinitely flexible, scalable and expandable across the spaces imperative,” said Gatenby.
Hewshott put the project to out tender, with AV solutions provider GVAV awarded the contract. Stuart Harris, technical sales manager at GVAV, in consultation with Audiologic, specified a comprehensive Q-SYS ecosystem. This system centred around 16 x NV-32 H core capable software configurable video endpoints with 4 x TSC Touch Screen Controllers, AD-C6T speakers and Q-SYS PTZ cameras was specified, integrated with Shure MXA710 and 910 ceiling microphones, SM58 and WL185 handheld and lapel microphones, and Yamaha VXL1B line array speakers.
The main Convening Hall, which can be divided into three separate areas, is equipped with Shure MXA microphones and front/rear cameras, allowing versatile configurations with multiple screens, excellent acoustic properties and easy to use control panels. Smaller meeting rooms have full controllable audio with NEC large format screens, running bars, Logitech scribes and taps with roommate PC running Zoom rooms.
The XR Lab offers the ideal space for extended reality presentations or exhibits. Lighting can be changed to marry the mood of the space or the exhibit, with the ability to highlight items within the nook areas.
The Garden Pavilion fully glazed meeting space, with camera technology built-in, has Shure MXA 710 microphones built in to front, Q-SYS touch panel for control of the space and a large format display.
Early engagement on the project was key for all parties, Hewshott were working directly with the architects and stakeholders from conception to ensure that the technology was fit for purpose and installed correctly – such as the physics of the microphone installation, ensuring premium sound and functionality was maintained when architects wanted everything to be as invisible as possible. “Acoustics needed to be thought about at the very beginning, not as an afterthought,” said Gatenby. “Cabling and recesses were all addressed from the start, with everything configured from a discovery perspective, making the building a matrix which is then easy to plug-in the hardware.”
Stuart Harris added: “Though we didn’t stray far from the original design, adding in elements such as the lectern with the screen in the back was a nice little edition we came up with. As the Q-SYS system is so flexible, it makes tweaks very easy. Keeping lines of communication open throughout the project was key – we worked very closely with Audiologic to make sure we had priority for Q-SYS kit coming in to overcome those hurdles – without their help and flexibility we would have been missing some key components.”
On the decision of choosing Q-SYS, Gatenby explained: “The aim was to find the optimal solution, and AVoIP was a no-brainer. QSC was a contender from early on, and with the delays we saw the Q-SYS ecosystem evolve, with the cores developing, the NV technology and the way the system communicates with the cameras and the controls, it became the perfect fit. The Q-SYS ecosystem is now the system of choice across many of our projects, due to its seamless flexibility.”
Efthymios (Tim) Chatzigiannis, AV manager at The Rhodes Trust praised Q-SYS: “I was impressed with the flexibility and ease with which you can integrate different elements and change the simply by dragging and dropping. I needed to add some exposure controls for the cameras and it was so simple to do. The training really opened my eyes to the possibilities, and I am confident I can tweak and adapt the system as we require. The Q-SYS communities have been an invaluable resource for support.”
QSC NV-32-H Core Capable x 16
QSC PTZ 20X60 Camera x 9
QSC CORE 510i DSP x 1
QSC AD-C6T Black Speaker (Pair) x 9
QSC CXQ4K8 8-Channel 500W/CH Q-SYS network Amplifier x 2
QSC TSC 116W-BK G2 BLACK Touch Screen Controller x 4
QSC MP-A40V 4 Channel Power Amplifier x 1
QSC SL QSE 510P QSC Scripting License x 1
QSC SL DAN16P Dante 16×16 Channel License, Perpetual x 1
Shure MXW2/SM58 Handheld c/w SM58 Mic x 11
Shure MXW1/O Transceiver x 11
Shure WL185 Cardioid Lapel Mic x 11
Shure MXWAPT4Z11 4 ch Access Point Transceiver x 7
Shure MXW8 Z11 Gooseneck Desktop Base Transceiver x 1
Shure MX415LP/C Gooseneck x 1
Shure MXWNCS4 x 7
Senn MobileConnect Station (508895) x 2
Yamaha VXL1B 24 Compact Line Array Speaker SINGLE x 10
Yamaha VXL1B 16 Loudspeaker in Black x 2
Yamaha VXL1B16P Slim DANTE PoE line array speaker Black x 13
Audinate ADP-DAO-AU-0x2 Dante AVIO Adaptor x 1
Shure MXA710B-4FT 4 Foot Linear Array Mic in Black x 9
Shure MXA710W-4FT Linear Array Mic in White ,120cm Long x 1
Shure MXA910**WHITE** Ceiling Tile Mic x 6