In the words of Capricorn Group themselves, ‘positive change happens when the right elements come together.’ Practicing what they preach, the Namibian-based financial services group observed continued growth and sustainability during 2021, in the face of the pandemic. They made a consolidated effort to look after their employees’ wellbeing by providing PPE, as well as counselling services. Additionally, the Capricorn Group recently inaugurated state-of-the-art, brand new furnished offices located in Windhoek, aptly named Capricorn Corner. The unveiling of the site was officiated by Mr Koos Brandt, one of the key founders of Bank Windhoek, the flagship brand of the Capricorn Group.
This impressive modern building, covering an expansive 3,258 square metres, will house Capricorn Group’s data centre, in-house training facility, as well as the various departments of Bank Windhoek. Stage Audio Works (SAW) Namibia were called upon to deliver a comprehensive system specification and design. They also oversaw the subsequent integration, commissioning, and support, bringing these elements together with a streamlined audio-visual solution.
Whilst many businesses were downsizing, cutting staff, or offering reduced service due to the economic impact brought by Covid-19, the Capricorn Group made a courageous decision to expand in this time of uncertainty, providing job security for the local economy. Johan Swanepoel, a chairperson of the Capricorn Group passionately conveys the feelings of the board: “The board was very mindful of the positive impact the project would have in securing jobs and stimulating the economy. When others were disinvesting, postponing investment, and cutting capital expenditure, Capricorn Group took the bold decision to invest, and the board approved the development of Capricorn Corner. The investment in Capricorn Corner helped secure 250 jobs over 16 months and inject N$110 million into our economy.”
Stage Audio Works Namibia’s primary brief was to streamline and improve the Capricorn Group’s video and audio conferencing experience across its nine meeting rooms. One key aspect of this was the inclusion of native Microsoft Teams conference systems in each of the rooms, to ensure high quality streaming with a familiar interface. The new building also included four classrooms, which required state-of-the-art interactive displays to improve the group’s training capability. Additionally, the project’s scope covered the provision of a multi-purpose venue which required the dynamic routing of audio and video sources to cater for various occasions. The overall goal of the installation was to improve both the flexibility and operability of the bank’s unified communications (UC), to promote better collaboration. It also had to satisfy the architects aesthetic vision of the building, seamlessly blending with the design where possible.
Capricorn Corner’s audio solution is principally comprised of Audac equipment, with the focal point of the installation being the multi-purpose conference venue, where SAW Namibia implemented ten Audac ALTI4 pendant loudspeakers that offer premium audio, with a sleek casing. Additionally, they installed seven Audac QuickFit ceiling loudspeakers throughout the venue itself, and a further ten in the adjacent balcony, supported by two final surface mount loudspeakers. The Audac CIRA824s deliver the perfect balance between high-quality audio and visual discretion, neatly fitting into the structure of the building. The system is powered by a CAP448 quad channel amplifier – another Audac product. For the smaller interactive classrooms, a soundbar was enough to fill the room.
Joppie Maritz, the Managing Director of Stage Audio Works Namibia rationalises their choice of Audac: “We have achieved excellent results with Audac on similar projects in the past, and therefore Audac was our preferred choice of loudspeaker and amplification for this unique project.” He continues: “Audac’s seamless integration and operability ensures that installation times are kept to a minimum, and their proven reliability reduces the need for maintenance. These are huge benefits in such a prestigious, large-scale integration as this where peace of mind is essential.”
The video element of this installation is equally impressive. Each room is furnished with the visual tools required to increase efficacy and improve collaboration. SAW Namibia equipped Capricorn Corner with numerous screens to fulfil a variety of applications depending on the location. The specification included several Samsung models, ranging from the 65” screens, present in every meeting room, complete with flexible mounting brackets, to the two 82” ultra HD screens installed in the multi-purpose venue. The three larger meeting rooms are also equipped with Apple TVs that boast 4K quality. The dimensions were carefully selected to fit the composition and size of each room. In the multi-purpose conference venue, an Atlona PTZ Camera was implemented to stream professional grade video – with USB functionality making it simple to connect devices. In the smaller interactive classrooms, 75” Samsung Flip3 interactive screens were used for the displays. Designed specifically for education, these allow for a more active, collaborative style of teaching. For video capture here, a Poly Studio all-in-one soundbar and auto track camera solution more than sufficed, delivering 4K HD quality with a 120-degree field of view.
Stage Audio Works Namibia also specified an array of cutting-edge technology to increase the control Capricorn Group have over their new office. Maritz explains the decision to use a Crestron solution: “The Crestron Flex range was the perfect solution for this installation, encompassing the full Microsoft Teams Room UC experience in a neat package, complete with an integrated AEC-enabled speakerphone to provide crystal clear conferencing and collaboration. When you factor in the Flex’s ability to connect and present from any mobile device (BYOD), it really does satisfy all of the clients need.” Where possible, mechanisms were automated to streamline the process and reduce the potential for human error. This is particularly evident with the integration of PoE, touchscreen room scheduling devices and occupancy sensors, also from Crestron. Furthermore, the inclusion of Crestron’s Air-Media technology allows for easy, secured wired or wireless presentation in the multi-purpose conference venue.
For a project of this magnitude, the number of challenges that arose was minimal – a testament to the clarity of communications between SAW Namibia and the Capricorn Group. The main challenge was the issue of time sensitivity: “One of the most common challenges is that the sensitive AV equipment needs to go in last; a process that requires a persistent dialogue between the integrators and architects, as structural changes often need to be tailored to house the gear in creative ways,” explains Emce Smit, Technical Manager for SAW Namibia. “We were appointed fairly late in the project. Coupled with the heightened security involved with connecting to the bank’s corporate network, numerous co-ordination meetings had to be scheduled to ensure that everything was flawless. Fortunately, the concerted collaboration of both parties resulted in an immaculate result!