Austria’s largest congress centre has just added another international-class attraction: comprising 52 individually controllable LED panels, the Polystage opens the door to spectacular and transformative stage-setting possibilities. The new system can transform the entrance hall from an exhibition area to a walk-in art exhibition or interactive stage in virtually no time.

“Arriving at a congress is often like entering a different world. The new system creates a unique wow effect and has countless possible uses for trade conventions and corporate customers. We are pleased to present an absolute world first in Vienna, destined to cause a sensation on the international event and congress market,” says Susanne Baumann-Söllner, Director of the Austria Center Vienna.

A creative stage for every event

Polystage is the collective name given to the 52 individual LED panels, which create around 174 m² of video display in the heart of the entrance hall. Arranged in two circles, panels are suspended by motor-driven belts, allowing them to be moved individually on a vertical plane from ceiling to floor. The name, a portmanteau of the ancient Greek ‘poly’ (‘many’) and ‘stage’, reflects the multitude of staging possibilities it offers. A giant LED banner surface on the gallery balustrade and two LED side walls complete the postage.

The ensemble is complemented by a spatial sound system, which creates an immersive auditory experience. A one-of-a-kind on the world stage, the Polystage system was developed by Media Apparat, which has already realised numerous international projects at the point where art, design and technology converge. A Viennese company, it has repeatedly featured in the BEA World Top 10 Event Agency ranking. Managing Director of Media Apparat, Andreas Göltl: “The scale and versatility of the Polystage is unparalleled anywhere in the world, offering event organisers an unprecedented branding and communications experience. We aimed to design a flexible installation for multiple settings that perfectly reflect various event formats.”

Custom staging options

The spectrum of possible applications for the Polystage is virtually unlimited. From its starting position, the installation morphs into a flowing wave movement, with the content displayed on the screens appearing untouched by the kinetic flow or just playfully absorbing it. For other settings, the LED panels can create static spaces for registration areas, exhibition booths, or art exhibitions that seemingly float in the air. They can also serve as an interactive stage for hybrid panel discussions, bringing on-site speakers and outside participants together in the same space. Karsten Elsner, head of event technology at the Austria Center Vienna, looks forward to exploring the various scenarios: “The 52 panels, which are filled with content and driven via the media servers, are taking us into completely new territory. Installation of this world first definitely represents a highlight for our technicians – the initial feedback from customers, partners and employees has also been overwhelmingly positive.”

A new experiential dimension for events

The international congress market quickly recovered in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, and occupancy rates have already returned to pre-crisis levels. However, participants’ expectations have clearly evolved. Susanne Baumann-Söllner comments: “Scientific lectures alone are not enough to justify long trips, as most are available online as streams anyway. However, the countless new contacts and the incomparable congress ambience are decisive factors for in-person attendance. Events are increasingly becoming occasions that also have a strong emotional impact. And now, with Polystage, event organisers can provide attendees with an event experience unlike any other.”

Technical specifications
  • 52 LED panels (each 3–4 m² in size)
  • 60 electric motors
  • 174 m² (inner and outer ring)
  • Speed 0.2 metres/second
  • Plus 71 m² LED banner
  • Plus 2 × 65 m² LED side walls
  • Total 375 m² LED display
  • Over 200 people were involved in developing and installing the Polystage

Internationales Amtssitz- und Konferenzzentrum Wien, Aktiengesellschaft (IAKW-AG) is responsible for maintaining the Vienna International Centre (VIC) and operating the Austria Center Vienna (ACV). The Austria Center Vienna is Austria’s largest conference centre. With 19 halls, 180 meeting rooms and some 26,000 square metres of exhibition space, it is one of the top players on the international conference circuit.