The University of Northampton is a public university in Northamptonshire, England, serving over 12,000 undergraduate and graduate students. In order to give students the best possible education for the best value, university leadership decided to build a new, centralized campus in Northampton’s Waterside district. The project allowed university officials to completely rethink how to best serve their students, resulting in a radically different approach that eschewed traditional lecture halls in favor of flexible, collaborative learning spaces. To create this 21st-century learning environment, the University of Northampton Waterside required state-of-the-art campus-wide networked AV and control systems.
Global AV distributer Midwich supplied the university with a range of AMX, JBL, Crown, BSS and AKG solutions to accommodate the complex technical demands of the ultra-modern campus. The comprehensive HARMAN solution was designed and deployed by Kinly, a service-led integrator specializing in the design, implementation and support of best-in-class collaboration solutions globally.
The backbone of Waterside’s new digital infrastructure is a campus-wide matrix of networked HARMAN AV equipment. 33 AMX SVSI N-series encoder and decoder units stream 4k video to 116 flexible teaching spaces, 24 collaborative spaces, one large lecture theater and several open spaces across campus (including two massive video walls). BSS BLU-50 and BLU-100 digital signal processors handle audio routing with equal speed and flexibility via BLU Link and Dante audio-over-IP protocols. Crown CDi-series amplifiers integrate seamlessly with the audio network and provide ample power with low power consumption to comply with the school’s efficiency standards.
A range of HARMAN audio equipment delivers pristine sound in a variety of spaces throughout the campus. The lecture theater features JBL CBT-series line array column loudspeakers, which utilize Constant Beamwidth Technology to achieve consistent coverage, augmented by 18-inch SRX818SP subwoofers for full-range sound. Additional CBT columns, along with Control 23-1 and 65 P/T loudspeakers and other assorted JBL models, deliver crystal-clear audio throughout the common areas and study spaces. AKG WMS420 wireless microphone systems allow speakers and presenters to be heard with maximum clarity for lectures, events and campus-wide broadcasts.
Northampton Waterside’s unique collaborative spaces were designed for maximum flexibility, incorporating a range of AMX solutions to adapt to various uses including classes, study sessions and meetings. More than 170 collaborative spaces feature an AMX Acendo Book 7-inch wall-mounted touch panel, which lets staff and students see at a glance if and when a room is available and book it for their use instantly, streamlining scheduling and improving efficiency. AMX MXD and MST touch panels allow users to interface with the campus AV network, and approximately 100 Bluetooth-enabled Acendo Vibe ACV-2100 conferencing sound bars facilitate communication with pristine sound quality from JBL speakers and microphones. The system was installed by world-class integrator Kinly, who worked closely with the university to ensure the system was configured to meet their unique needs.
One of Taylor’s main objectives with the Waterside project was to have one main supplier for all of the campus’ networked AV equipment, amplifiers and loudspeaker systems, conferencing technology and control systems. The synergy between the AMX, JBL, Crown, BSS and AKG solutions streamlined the installation and operation, and having HARMAN as the sole point of contact for support was equally important to Taylor.
“It became obvious to us that we needed to teach in a more 21st century way, so we’ve adopted a new approach called Active Blended Learning,” said Andrew Taylor, Digital Services Manager, University of Northampton. “I like to refer to it as almost the democratization of learning, because it’s not one person standing above everyone else and talking down to them anymore. They’re all in this collaborative environment. When we went down that route, it became clear to us that the spaces we were in at the time weren’t suitable to teach in that manner. Our Vice Chancellor came to us and said that he wanted us to produce the most digitally-capable campus in the country; and we turned around and said, ‘We’ll produce the most digitally-capable campus in the world.’ And we really feel like we’ve achieved that.”
“We were delighted to work with Midwich to create a modern learning facility for The University of Northampton’s new Waterside campus,” said Leighton Hughes, UK MD and EVP at Kinly. “The new HARMAN AV solutions enable Northampton students to collaborate and learn in exciting new ways. This project was extremely ambitious, and the end result is a truly modern and innovative campus that will provide unparalleled flexibility and scalability for years to come. We look forward to continuing our long-term partnership supporting UON with future digital transformation initiatives.”
“We’re finding that the uptake on the systems has been amazing,” said Taylor. “It’s above and beyond what I expected. We had a long proof of concept period where we were introducing people to this whole idea of a flipped classroom, but to be honest, it all works so well that most of them don’t know quite how much technology goes into it. Ultimately, the technology is doing exactly what it should do. It’s providing a great user experience where someone walks into a room and presses a button, and everything works. And that’s what they want. As long as that’s how it works, they’re happy. And that’s what we’ve been able to deliver with all of our HARMAN systems.”
“We were pleased to provide The University of Northampton with a modern, integrated and powerful AV solution using cutting-edge solutions by HARMAN Professional,” said Mike Day, Senior Brand Manager, AMX, Midwich. “Leveraging our extensive knowledge of the latest AV technologies, we were able to provide Northampton with a cutting-edge HARMAN AV solution that enables the university to create an advanced collaborative learning environment with extraordinary flexibility. No other technology provider can provide such a seamlessly integrated solution, and we are honored to be the exclusive distributor of HARMAN Huddle Room solutions in the UK and Ireland.”
“One of the key things I wanted to make the campus more supportable was a single supplier, so that I knew if I had a problem, it wouldn’t be the infrastructure because it was all designed to work together,” said Taylor. “That was a really important thing for me, because it means that I’m only doing business with one company. It means that I know that all my stuff’s going back to the same place for support. I have the surety of one person to pick up the phone to. That’s a very, very key point, and that’s one of the reasons why we love using HARMAN stuff on the new campus.”