Styriaversum – An Interactive Lobby

The lobby of a company’s head office is its business card. Ars Electronica Solutions designed the Styriaversum to extend an impressive welcome to those entering the lobby of Styria Media Group AG’s stylish new headquarters.

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Credit: Martin Hieslmair

With eight daily newspapers, over 130 weekly papers and magazines, six publishing houses, two radio stations, co-ownership of a TV station, six online news portals, seven online marketplaces and 25 content & community portals, Styria Media Group AG is one of the largest media conglomerates in Austria, Croatia and Slovenia.

The construction of the company’s new headquarters complex in Graz posed the question of what sort of impression this major corporation with an extensive line of products wanted to impart in its brand-new 390-m2 lobby to its visitors and, above all, to the approximately 1,000 staff members who work in this facility. Following a call for design proposals that attracted submissions from throughout Austria and abroad, Ars Electronica Solutions Styriaversum concept got the go-ahead. The project is now complete and the interactive lobby in the building at Gadollaplatz 1 in Graz is now open to the public.

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Photo: Martin Hieslmair

The Styria Pillar

The media conglomerate was established in 1869 and thus only 14 years after the appearance of the first Litfaßsäulen column, the traditional big-city billboard-in-the-round. Visitors to the lobby encounter an eye-catching allusion to those early days of media history: a digital version of the classic advertising column that’s prominently visible from the front entrance. The Styria Pillar features 18 touchscreens that present up-to-the-minute content from the company’s media outlets. Visitors can browse through six daily newspapers. Videos and statistics registering current traffic on the Styria portals are also on display.

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Photo: Martin Hieslmair

The Media Wall

The largest and thus most conspicuous installation is the lobby’s Media Wall. Its 27 screens divided into five sectors offer visitors multiple interaction options. In passive mode, news stories currently being featured by Styria Media Group outlets pop up as circular image & text elements. This visualization also depicts the wide-ranging areas of activity the company is engaged in.

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Photo: Martin Hieslmair

When visitors approach the wall to view its content close up, this is registered by a series of motion sensors and the wall switches into active mode in which the display goes into greater detail about the individual products.

Styria Media Group CEO Markus Mair had this to say about the concept’s implementation: “As soon as our staff members and visitors enter the lobby and feast their eyes on the installations that make up this Styriaversum, they immediately perceive that we are a multifaceted media enterprise. But then, when they focus on the Media Wall with its content and animated visuals, we’re not just identified; here, people get a feel for us as well.”

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Photo: Martin Hieslmair

In presentation mode, the Media Wall can also be used in conjunction with tours of the facility. Guides use a handheld tablet to display a variety of information and present the company and its products in a way that’s custom-tailored to the particular group of visitors. And when events are staged in the lobby, it’s time to switch into event mode in which images are screened over the entire wall. It’s even possible to display live video from one of the company’s audiovisual media.

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Photo: Martin Hieslmair

The Media Table

The Styria Media Group’s subsidiaries are presented on the Media Table’s touchscreens. Information pages, statistics and websites elaborate on each division’s activities. In conjunction with presentations, all content can be displayed on the Media Wall for a larger, group-friendly format. Earphones are provided so it’s possible to listen to all audio, video soundtrack and radio content.

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Photo: Martin Hieslmair

The Styria Table

The company’s hard-copy publications can be made available on the Styria Table. This piece of furniture can be conveniently disassembled for easy transport—for instance, to trade shows where it’s a real visitor magnet at the Styria booth.

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Photo: Martin Hieslmair

The History Book

The History Book is a reference work dedicated to the historical development of newspapers. Historical facsimiles of three of Styria’s daily newspapers—Die Presse, Kleine Zeitung and Vecernji list—are projected onto the pages of the installation’s open book. Insightful commentary in three languages—German, English and Croatian—embed the respective page within the facts and circumstances of its historical context.

“My personal favorite is the History Book because it elegantly combines several media and so beautifully reflects the history of our multimedia enterprise. It’s a real invitation to discovery,” said Styria CEO Markus Mair at the completed lobby’s debut in late April 2015.

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Photo: Martin Hieslmair

The Styria Ticker

A content management system is employed to administer all of Ars Electronica Solutions’ lobby installations as well as a piece of infrastructure developed by another vendor—the Styria Ticker, a crawl text display that presents the latest headlines on the Styria Media Center’s exterior façade.

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Photo: Martin Hieslmair

Art as Mediator

“Ars Electronica Solutions’ projects very effectively express the sense of simultaneity that pervades our society and its process of transition into our digital future,” said Ars Electronica Artistic Director Gerfried Stocker. “We live at a time in which the digital is extraordinarily dominant, and we’re becoming increasingly aware of how dependent we are on this. But we also have to translate this into the real world. This is something of utmost importance for humankind, and this artistic approach is an excellent way to get it across to people.”

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Matthias Opis (left), coordinator at Styria Media Group, and Michael Badics, Senior Director at Ars Electronica Solutions. Photo: Martin Hieslmair

The Assignment: Design a Business Card for a Company

To create multimedia installations for a headquarters lobby that impressively communicate to staff members that they work for a media enterprise—that was the assignment facing the designers of this walk-through “business card” in Graz. Matthias Opis, project coordinator at Styria Media Group: “We really had the impression that Ars Electronica Solutions’ proposal best understood what we wanted to achieve. The other project submissions were interesting too, but here, the entire arc and the overall idea were most convincing.”

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Photo: Martin Hieslmair

The decision to work together with Ars Electronica Solutions kicked off a 14-month project that has now been wrapped up. “The collaboration itself was highly pragmatic and very pleasant. Ars Electronica displayed tremendous eagerness to respond to our needs,” Opis said. “This made for a development process that was as constructive as it was creative, one in which both the commissioning client and the contractor have been actively involved. With this experience in mind, I’d like to congratulate Ars Electronica Solutions on a job well done.”

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