Rhodes House, Oxford:

Case study




NEC displays

Samsung LED walls

WolfVision Cynap

Shure mics

Yamaha speakers

Chief bracketry

Logitech Scribe

Logitech Rally Bars

Joan room booking


​​​​​​​Audio visual case study

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The £37 million redevelopment of Rhodes House in Oxford blends historical grandeur with cutting-edge technology as the Q-SYS ecosystem features at the forefront of its new GVAV-integrated innovative shared spaces.

The 26th of March 1902 saw the death of British mining magnate and imperialist Cecil Rhodes, sparking a chain of events that would conceive a new global hub for educational excellence and cultural exchange. 120 years on, Oxford’s Rhodes House’s redevelopment is steeped in innovation and technological advancement befitting of its international prestige.

Rhodes House, Oxford​​​​​​​

Image: Fisher Studios, Oxford

Rhodes, who studied at Oxford himself, spent most of his life living in South Africa, becoming a key player in late-19th Century British colonialism as a powerful politician and diamond tycoon. His vision of promoting international understanding, leadership and the pursuit of knowledge led him to bequeath a sizable portion of his estate to fund his lasting legacy, The Rhodes Trust, an educational charity whose principal responsibility is to fund the prestigious Rhodes Scholarship. This award, which remains the oldest international graduate scholarship scheme in the world, supports exceptional students from all backgrounds to study at Oxford University.

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Completed in 1928, Rhodes House was erected in memory of Rhodes, amalgamating the 17th Century architecture of the Oxford University campus with colonial South African and traditional English design. The House, which has played host to speeches and lectures from the likes of Nelson Mandela, Albert Einstein and Rhodes Scholarship benefactor Bill Clinton, was designed with a library, meeting rooms, a lecture hall and expansive gardens.

Plans were approved in 2020 to transform the Grade II* listed building in an ambitious £37m redevelopment including the restoration of architecture and a complete renovation of the building’s basement to create several new innovative spaces. Alongside its function as a central hub for The Trust, Rhodes House needed to become a modern, dynamic, hybrid venue that is prepared for a range of prestigious global event types.

Working closely with the client, key stakeholders and architects early on to establish the project requirements, AV consultants Hewshott International were appointed to take the lead on the building’s audio visual plans, and GVAV were successful in the subsequent tendering process for supply and installation in 2022.

Ground floor redevelopment

The audio-only redevelopments on the ground floor are subtle but complementary to the grandeur of the building’s interior aesthetic. The McCall MacBain (formerly Milner) Hall, the largest of the floor’s function rooms, is decorated with illustrious tall windows, oak floors, marble fireplaces and portraits of famous figures.

With versatile layout options to accommodate a capacity of up to 200 people, this room serves as a function room for large-scale events and presentations. As such, the equipment installed needed to be adaptable to different conditions and purposes, with new users able to walk into the space and begin using the equipment intuitively.

Rhodes House function room

Above: Spot the speakers. Image: Fisher Studios, Oxford

Logistical challenges of undertaking destructive alterations to a Grade II* listed building were overcome by selecting discreet and lightweight solutions for these spaces.

In the McCall MacBain Hall, as well as the smaller Beit and Atlantic function rooms, slim line-array Yamaha Dante speakers are discreetly installed, providing abundant audio for everybody in attendance whilst respecting the original aesthetic with an unobtrusive design. These speakers are linked to Shure lapel mics, handheld mics and transceivers, which facilitate portability and allow the presenter to be heard in each space.

The historical significance of the building and the preservation of the listed architecture were top priorities throughout the installation stage of the project on the ground floor.

A modern conferencing space

An imposing new marble staircase leads down to a spacious concourse in the renovated basement level which has been hollowed out to create several new modern facilities. This foyer, which is home to small breakout meeting spaces, features two multi-purpose 55” NEC signage displays fitted with Crestron Saros sound bars to deliver high quality audio output from the system.

When not showing a running slideshow of Rhodes Trust media, the screens are set up to display a live feed from the adjacent Convening Hall, allowing those outside to see and hear a conference whilst networking or socialising.

With a capacity of up to 300 people, the 253m2 Convening Hall is the ultimate modern conferencing suite that can be sub-divided into three smaller rooms for full flexibility. The centrepiece of this space is a striking 6x3m Samsung double LED wall, which acts as the main presenting display for the room. A smaller 3x3m Samsung LED wall is fitted at the East end of the room.

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Above: 6x3m Samsung LED video wall

Technological advances and falling costs have meant that LED is becoming an increasingly embraced solution for presentation and digital signage integrations. The benefits of LED were clear, Samsung’s 1.5mm fine pitch modular IER series was chosen to provide bright and crisp visuals, required to compete with the overhead lights and facing window.

From a sustainability point of view, the panels that make up the display have an expected lifespan of around 100,000 hours, making this a very efficient long-term solution for the space.

On top of this, the modular nature of the product means that individual cabinets can be replaced over time in the unlikely event of failure, saving money and reducing wastage and, in turn, the building’s carbon footprint.

Oxford Rhodes House Convening Hall lectern

Above: Custom lectern from Avenue Furniture

In front of the large LED display, a bespoke height-adjustable Avenue Furniture lectern matching the room’s aesthetic features a 24” LITEMAX LCD display bar.

This is easily configurable to show the logo and branding of whoever is using the space.

Integrated into the top of the lectern is a 19” Beetronics comfort monitor, chosen as a perfect companion for the presenter for its anti-reflective matte display, vibrant colours and 178° viewing angles

As well as the two LED video walls, the room has three 98” 4K NEC Multisync C981Q displays chosen for their brightness and anti-haze features to further avoid distracting reflections, ensuring optimal visibility.

Yamaha VXL line array speakers are discreetly installed either side of the displays, which are built in flush to the wood panelled walls.

Regardless of the set-up of the room for any type of function, nobody is too far from a high-quality display with premium sound thanks to the AV design.

System flexibility with Q-SYS

The room’s screens, supported by Chief mounting brackets, are each accompanied by a Q-SYS control panel, providing full comprehensive control for each display. Presenters have the flexibility to show a variety of content on each display from a multitude of sources, allowing them to walk into the space with their own device and start presenting immediately and seamlessly.

Compatibility with Q-SYS meant the WolfVision Cynap Pro and Core Pro models were chosen to add another distribution dimension, allowing users to cast content to the displays wirelessly.

The Q-SYS control panels are the front end component of a comprehensive AVoIP (Audio Visual over Internet Protocol) system. In the planning stage, consultants Hewshott were keen to work with Q-SYS products to curate a modern, flexible and scalable AV solution for the Convening Hall.

The brand’s evolution to audio and video has meant the whole ecosystem was the perfect choice to deliver a holistic solution that was not only flexible, but future-proofs the space, allowing for potentially infinite expansion with full compatibility.

With these plans in place and with an abundance of experience integrating AVoIP technology, GVAV were able to come into the project and work closely with Hewshott to deliver the client’s vision.

GVAV Stuart Harris"A few years ago we would have considered QSC for primarily audio solutions. As they started to bring in control elements and device integration into their portfolio it has become a truly holistic solution - one platform that does everything. You then bring the Wolfvision into this as well, giving us the ability to manipulate the content on each display."

Stuart Harris | Technical Sales Manager, GVAV

A total of 14 versatile Q-SYS NV-32-H devices are deployed across the system acting as encoders and decoders, transforming signals from inputs for the display network. Q-SYS amplifiers, ceiling speakers, PTZ cameras and Core DSP integrate seamlessly with high-end performance, ensuring everything runs smoothly and efficiently.

The building’s first all-Q-SYS control system makes for effortless ease of use with minimal training required for end users. The functional front-end gives full control with an intuitive drag and drop design. For Rhodes House’s AV team, the flexibility of the system will open up the potential to change or make additions to the kit where applicable in-house.

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A global Rhodes House

Amongst the devices that make up the Q-SYS ecosystem within the Convening Hall, seven PTZ-IP Conference Cameras are integrated around the room with tracking capabilities to capture dynamic video footage in full high definition. These cameras are neatly and unobtrusively fitted into the room’s wooden surround, offering full video coverage that can then be shown back on the displays in the room, the outside foyer, or beamed out to an external audience.

As well as their seamless compatibility, the components being flush and integrated into the room’s permanent fixtures reflect the careful detail with which this space was conceived. This even extends into the ceiling, where nine Shure MXA710 line array microphones are almost completely concealed within the design. Effective communication and coordination between the architects, GVAV and Hewshott was essential during the planning and installation of this ceiling equipment, as well as getting the physics and location right.

Back on the ground, portable Shure handheld and lapel microphones allow speakers to be heard clearly throughout the space and on broadcast.

Being able to capture and transmit video from the room was an important initial project requirement set out by the client. Reflecting the international nature of the Rhodes Scholarship in a new interconnected world ever-moving towards collaborative hybrid and remote solutions, this new conferencing space needed to not only open Rhodes House up to a global audience, but also greatly expand the opportunities and event types the Trust are able to offer.

Expectedly, global supply chain volatility at the time meant that some kit was not always available immediately. This was overcome by good planning, early ordering and supply chain engagement in advance and tapping into a long-standing relationship with suppliers such as Audiologic to ensure GVAV had priority allocations wherever possible to deliver the project in good time.

Oxford Rhodes House NEC display

Above: Convening Hall. Image: Fisher Studios, Oxford


"The listed building status, COVID and supply chain issues led to this being a particularly complex project to sequence and deliver. The project hugely benefitted from GVAV’s relationships with suppliers and distributors and focussed supply chain management. Equipment and people were on site, on time for each of our key milestones."

Matt Treavis | IT Director, Rhodes Trust

Best in glass

Outside the main building, a glazed pavilion has been built on the West side of the grounds. This brand new high-spec venue offers stunning views across Rhodes House’s picturesque gardens while serving as a complementary backdrop to the traditional architecture that surrounds it.

Much like the Convening Hall, the 50-seat Garden Pavilion is fitted with a comprehensive and flexible Q-SYS AVoIP system. Two NV-32-H units are again deployed as encoders and decoders, with Q-SYS amplifier and PTZ cameras also integrated.

Image: Fisher Studios, Oxford

The main display for the venue is a Chief-mounted 86” NEC C861Q large format display which is built into custom wooden housing that can be opened or closed depending on the needs of the event.

Oxford Rhodes House wall mounted Q-SYS control panel

Above: Q-SYS control panel

Once again, connectivity options were at the forefront of the requirements for this space, and content to the display can be fed by several different inputs, all controlled by a Q-SYS control panel mounted on the adjacent wall.

The WolfVision Cynap Core Pro allows end users to wirelessly show content from their own device and join meetings with ease.

Audio input for the space comes from Shure portable microphones and a gooseneck mic integrated with the lectern, while Yamaha speakers at the front of the building provide the output.

This culminates in a modern, sophisticated new space for business meetings, smaller conferences and even ceremonial events like weddings with its bright and airy surroundings. Complemented by a range of room layout options, the audio visual integrations give the Garden Pavilion a dynamism that makes it a sufficiently equipped, desirable and contemporary venue.

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Above: Rhodes House's new glass garden pavilion

Extending reality

The LED and AVoIP integrations alone are a clear indicator of intent at Rhodes House. Renovated with tomorrow in mind from top to bottom, the building is equipped for a global world with interconnectivity at its heart, pushing the boundaries of technological innovation in the process.

There is no better example of this pioneering spirit than the House’s brand new XR Lab, a contemporary space to explore the capabilities of virtual and extended reality. As we move into an age of the lines being increasingly blurred between digital and real life, this exhibition room enables fellows and scholars to experiment with this emerging technology and notions of the metaverse.

Laced with the latest immersive tech, this futuristic collaborative space is in direct contrast with the carefully preserved traditionally-styled Oxford function rooms upstairs. As such, the client requirement for the Lab was markedly different with an emphasis on futuristic integrations befitting of the nature of the space.

Oxford Rhodes House XR Lab

Above: Rhodes House's XR Lab

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Use of light plays an important part in the presentation and function of this room, with GV-installed Abstract LED strips integrated into the ceiling to set the mood to match the purpose.

A departure from the traditional remit for an audio visual integrator, GVAV were happy to oblige with the supply and install of these dynamic lights after a proposal by the GV technical team in the design phase.

A total of approximately 26 meters of Abstract strips were installed throughout the space including within the nooks of recessed shelving, allowing exhibitors to highlight, complement and emphasise objects with light.

A KissBox Lan to DMX interface serves as the bridge between the technology and the front-end, while 4-channel DMX LED controllers amplify the creative possibilities, granting mastery over a spectrum of lighting colours and vibrant combinations with ease and familiarity via the room’s Q-SYS TSC control panel.

The room’s peripherals run over an AVoIP system, facilitating dynamic content sharing and future-proofed scalability. Even as cutting-edge technologies evolve, the XR Lab is unlikely to outgrow its audio visual network any time soon as the flexible Q-SYS system enables infinite expansion possibilities. New inputs and outputs can be integrated as required with ease, eliminating the need for full regenerations of the AV infrastructure.

Q-SYS NV-32-H units act as decoders and encoders, whilst the Q-SYS touch panel gives end users full control of the system’s peripherals. Audio on the network is driven by Q-SYS SPA multichannel amps, an Extron Surround Sound Processor and a total of eight Monitor Audio wall speakers.

Oxford Rhodes House XR Lab DTEN D7X

Above: DTEN D7X

Mounted on a Heckler AV Cart, a DTEN D7X all-in-one unit is integrated in the Lab, adding video conferencing capability to the plethora of technology at end users’ disposal.

The D7X’s 4K wide-angle camera and 15 mic array help connect the XR Lab to the outside world with ease via Teams, while USB-C and wireless options allow BYOD simplicity.

Facilitated by its comprehensive audio visual integration, this new vibrant and tech-infused lab will become a vital hub for collaboration, exhibition and presentation as one of Rhodes House’s signature spaces.

A place to meet

Around the building, digital signage has been installed to display content and wayfinding information with extra BYOD connectivity options courtesy of the WolfVision Cynap Pure and audio from Yamaha speakers.

Oxford Rhodes House WolfVision Cynap Pure

Above: WolfVision Cynap Pure

An example of the meticulously crafted building design and echoing the aesthetic from the Convening Hall, these signage displays are installed flush with the wooden wall panelling.

Many of Rhodes House’s meeting rooms have also been given a big tech upgrade where brand new Logitech Zoom rooms have been installed for smaller in-person or hybrid gatherings.

The main display in these rooms is an NEC 75” display mounted with a Chief bracket for presentations or video conferencing.

The powerful all-in-one Logitech Rally Bar offers 4K capture for video calls, as well as a host of other features including pan and tilt, an AI viewfinder and up to 5x optical zoom. With Grid View, Speaker View or Group View display options, video calls become immersive and more engaging for those in the room and joining remotely. Audio is captured and relayed with crystal clarity by the Rally Bar’s six beamforming microphones and two speakers.

Oxford Rhodes House Logitech Rally bar

Above: Logitech Rally Bar

Mounted to the room’s table, a Logitech Tap touch controller makes connecting to a video call effortless with seamless connectivity with the Rally Bar, as well as calendar integration and content sharing. A wall-mounted Logitech Scribe captures content directly from the room’s whiteboard, bringing remote participants into the meeting like never before.

Each meeting space can be reserved and managed remotely thanks to a Joan room booking system, integrating seamlessly with Rhodes House’s chosen calendar provider.

Backlit Joan 6 Pro panels are fitted outside each bookable space, displaying room availability and upcoming meeting information in real-time. The minimalist e-paper wireless displays are a sustainable, user-friendly product choice for room management.

Oxford Rhodes House Joan Booking Panels​​​​​​​

Above: Joan Room Booking Panels

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A 20th Century vision for tomorrow

Five years in the making with meticulous planning and consideration in every square inch, the renovated Rhodes House seizes Cecil Rhodes’ original vision for his legacy and re-encapsulates it for the 21st Century.

In a post-pandemic world and in a time where unprecedented factors present shared global objectives, a prophecy of leadership, communication and encouraging co-operative dialogue is more relevant than ever.

Coming into a project that was already underway and rapidly evolving, GVAV worked closely with both Hewshott and the client, keeping lines of communication open at all times and drawing on a wealth of internal experience to help fine-tune the plan and make design changes. Flexibility was integral to the success of the project, and weekly status meetings on building progress and product supply were held to ensure frictionless collaboration.

Working with other contractors and suppliers with effective communication was essential to the success of this project and ensuring each space was delivered on time. Collaboratively, bespoke solutions were curated for the unique requirements of each space, while taking into account important considerations such as the building’s listed status.

Alongside the preservation of the site’s heritage, the renovated Rhodes House embraces new and emerging technologies to create fluid, user friendly environments for both business and pleasure. Modern, scalable and forward-thinking systems have been put in place to future-proof the House to serve trustees, fellows, scholars and the local community for many years to come.

"The Rhodes Trust continues to value the partnership developed with GVAV throughout the delivery of this complex project, bringing world class convening facilities into Rhodes House, a grade II* listed building.

Stuart, Matt and the wider GVAV team worked as an integrated team with the Trust’s technical staff and our consultants, Hewshott International, to refine and extend our designs. This iterative and collaborative process led to a number of design features in our Convening Hall and extended reality spaces that we’re particularly pleased with.

We are exceptionally pleased with the quality, capabilities and reliability of the new AV systems at Rhodes House."​​​​​​​

Matt Treavis

IT Director, Rhodes House

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Image: Fisher Studios, Oxford

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Image: Fisher Studios, Oxford