A unique and exciting facility for Birmingham City University.
An ambitious experimental space.
A benchmark for teaching facilities.
The Hive Theatre at Birmingham City University is the result of two ambitious goals. The first – to create a seminar space with a greater focus on student collaboration and participation. The second – to deliver more effective collaboration between research, education, and professional practice.
A careful balance between audiovisual and acoustics expertise was needed to deliver the requirements of this unique space.
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We were excited to deliver an experimental learning space from the earliest design stages. The room is a unique in-the-round collaborative environment that promotes content sharing and student interaction.
The Hive Theatre has a distinctive oval shape, with ultra-wide-format, curved presentation walls. Student seating is arranged in huddle group tables focused towards the centre of the room. Acoustics can be notoriously problematic in a circular space so, after conducting detailed Odeon and EASE modelling, we decided acoustic absorption materials could sit behind the projection screens. This mean the acoustic ‘flutter’ and the effect of the curved walls was significantly reduced.
- CLIENT: Birmingham City University
- ARCHITECT: Associated Architects
Each projection wall was made up of three laser projectors; these were recessed into the ceiling and carefully positioned to keep them hidden from view, reduce their noise generation, and ensure clear projection lines. We incorporated wireless microphones and architecturally-integrated loudspeakers to create a fully functional presentation system. We ensured the session, content management, and microphone activity are all automated and controlled through a custom programmed iPad application.
The unconventional, stimulating and progressive room format means students and teachers have new opportunities for focused group working, voting, content sharing and collaboration. The AV systems we designed allow for a range of room modes, one of which is the immersive ‘open collaboration’ mode. Small groups can work together in responding to questions or tasks, and then present their content to the surrounding curved room displays.
So far, the theatre has proved to be a unique asset to the university – providing teams with an experimental learning space that they can use to study alternative learning methods. Lecturers can connect and engage with their students more than ever before. Through innovative incorporation of technology, we have delivered a truly unique and exciting new benchmark for teaching facilities, breaking the moulds set by technological limitations of the past.
The adoption has been amazing, with students and teaching faculty diving right into all the new functional possibilities and methods delivered by a very advanced AV system.
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It has been a genuine pleasure to have the specialist design skills of Hoare Lea on the project, developing the design with us and managing its successful delivery from start to finish.