First class install graduates with honours

posted on Friday, 25th January 2013 by David Slater

Installs  Education 

Leading residential and commercial installer Smartcomm knew it would have pull out all the stops to get top marks for this expansive project for Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design. Formed in 1989, CSM is one of six colleges that form the prestigious University of the Arts London (UAL). The college has an enviable reputation; a variety of internationally renowned artists, designers and performers, including Colin Firth and Pierce Brosnan, started out at the college.

Having been previously based in Southampton Row and at Charing Cross, The college moved into a new home at the reformed King's Cross in Central London in 2011, as part of a 67 acre development, in total 20 twenty historic buildings are being refurbished to create offices, shops, homes and the University. As part of this refurbishment, Smartcomm was appointed to install AV facilities throughout Central Saint Martins College. Home to over 4,500 students and staff, this was clearly going to be a huge project.

Screens are ubiquitous across the campus, as they're used to enable students to showcase their work, check information regarding courses or advertise any upcoming shows. A complex network of digital signage was required, comprising screens from 23- to 52-inches, including some vertical displays. The network can display everything from the building's energy performance certificate or the room booking system.

Don't lecture me
At the heart of the facility are two lecture theatres. Smartcomm deployed Sanyo Full HD PDG-DHT8000L projectors, accompanied by Screen International recessed electric screens, in each. Panasonic plasma displays were also installed to ensure every student has a clear view, regardless of where they sit. Both rooms offer the same connectivity, allowing the use of multiple input sources. In addition to an Apple Mini Mac and Denon Blu-ray player there are connectivity plates offering laptop/audio, composite AV and FireWire. Generally the two rooms are used separately, but when a larger space is required for an event or lecture electric partitions can be removed, creating one large area that hosts both raised and floor seating. An integrated Extron system is used to manage house lighting, DMX lighting, fire alarm interface and room configuration.

One of the busier areas on campus is the Refectory, often used for meetings and Student Union parties as well as a space for students and staff to congregate and eat. A variety of flexible AV solutions were required in order for the room to be used for these different scenarios. The Smartcomm team mounted six NEC 40-inch LCD displays across the ceiling, fed by the campus' digital signage system. The screens have also been wired to accept a feed from the DJ Booth. Two 65-inch Panasonic plasmas installed on opposite walls take the same feeds. These screens also provided access to other equipment, as and when required. Flexibility is the name of the game.

Elsewhere, a total of nine seminar rooms each sport the same basic system, built around Panasonic PDPs; the larger rooms also feature NEC 3250W projectors and motorised Screen International screens. Equipment control is via a compact Extron touch screen embedded in the podiums.

Dalek invasion
Inevitably, many of the classes held at the UAL involve rehearsal rooms and studios, so there was a need to be able to move hardware around. The solution came via a fleet of Unicol Avecta AV trollies, each outfitted with Panasonic screens and sound systems. Referred to affectionately as Daleks by staff and students, they offer touchpad control and can be hooked up to pretty much any AV source component.

This complex project took four months to complete, at a cost of £700,000. System design was by Mark Allen. As an example of a multi-functional commercial install, we say it graduates with top honours.

Also read:
The World Is Not Enough for this Smarthome
Kyri cinema: The ultimate home theatre

A bit about Smartcomm...

Smartcomm is a UK based specialist Audio Visual, Communications & Controls Integration Company which has continually been at the forefront of the industry. We have years of experience in designing and installing solutions that seamlessly integrate the latest technologies into a wide range of environments, including corporate, retail, hotel, leisure and residential developments, to fulfil every possible requirement.


3 Barnes Wallis Court

Wellington Road

Cresses Business Park


HP12 3PS

Tel: 01494 471912


David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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