JPC managers of the City of Johannesburg property portfolio creates a truly SMART Technology Space Enabled Council Chamber

Buildings are designed with a number of functions in mind, as well as a clear priority of those functions. The most important function in the space of the newly built, SMART Space Enabled Council Chamber is communication and then debate, discussion, and law-making.

Joburg Property Company (JPC) created a vision and a design to make that vision a reality. Translating their vision into a functional space is this particular masterpiece that has a 5-star rating on the Green Star SA Rating system and SMART infrastructures that may be linked to the regional precincts. The design focus is on creating a politically and visually transparent environment for council meetings, collaboration, and debate.

One of the key features of a chamber like this is the quality of audio and acoustics achieved to optimise communications. In any parliamentary space, if the video stops you can still continue the service, but if the sound stops you have to stop the session because when it comes to making laws, debating, and decision-making, it’s all about the spoken word

During the design phase, attempted research of similar facilities around the world found no known circular fully glazed glass chambers similar to the design of the new Johannesburg City Council Chamber that could provide a very high degree of speech intelligibility and acoustic functionality. The acoustic and audio qualities achieved in the new Johannesburg Council Chamber is truly a reference level standard that can be appreciated by most untrained ears, not just sound professionals.

To achieve an optimum acoustic design, an inner angled glass wall was created not only to achieve the required sound insulation from the busy streets outside but also to provide the required sound energy management as a bonus, it also created a walkway passage for circulation and casual impromptu meeting spaces.

The SMART meeting technology installed in the chamber was originally conceptualised by the project AV technology consultant for the National Parliament Assembly Chamber in 2002. The SMART system integrates a delegate meeting system and a network touchscreen information system.

At the time, it was one of the most advanced chamber meeting systems in the world. The software used for the system was fully developed in South Africa by South Africans. Since 2002, various versions of the system have been installed in provincial legislatures. The NCOP chamber and the National Assembly chamber SMART meeting systems have also been, since then, updated. The SMART system installed in the Johannesburg Council Chamber represents the most technologically advanced version to date.

Due to the circular nature of the space, it would be challenging to provide optimal video viewing coverage for all seating areas; in addition, as the chamber is a glass-walled space, very high ambient light levels would prevent the use of conventional video projection technologies. To overcome these challenges, the latest large format full HD LED walls were provided.

This ensures high-quality video images and presentations can be viewed by all delegates and public participants in the chamber. The video information can also be viewed by council delegates through their individual 15-inch touchscreen video displays.

The touch screen information system can provide preloaded meeting information, council rules, and all other information relevant to the council proceedings. It can also be used by individual delegates to call for assistance and services. An emergency evacuation system was installed to facilitate fast evacuation when required.

The fundamental philosophy underpinning this world-class Council Chamber with SMART technology is space enabling for the intended users; the outcome truly is – political transparency enabled!

Source: R News