Audio Visual Design Guidelines

General Overview

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Scope, Purpose, and Application

The Design Guidelines assemble national and international benchmarks for audio visual systems in a tertiary education context and draw upon the collective experience of members of the association of Audiovisual & Educational Technology Management (AETM), the prime industry association representing audio visual professionals in the tertiary sector.

The Design Guidelines have two objectives.

First, they provide usable advice for Architects, Engineers and Consultants in the essential requirements for successfully integrating audio visual systems in learning spaces.
Second, to guide academic staff, project managers and administrative staff, in both best practice and minimum requirements for specific types of AV fit-out indevelopment and management of learning spaces. These sections have been developed by surveying the membership to bring together a national consensus across more than thirty tertiary institutions.

The Design Guidelines do not define architectural, electrical, or acoustic standards, nor do they replace the use of applicable Australian and International standards and building codes. However audio visual presentation and communications facilities are essential to modern teaching and learning and the successful provision of AV functionality in tertiary learning environments places specific requirements on the design of the space, the acoustic and lighting environment and the provision of electrical and data services.

By providing an underlying framework of design principles, the Design Guidelines supplement the technology specific AV design guidelines and specifications developed by individual institutions.
The Guidelines will be reviewed and updated regularly to ensure their continued relevance. The current and definitive copy will be stored online, accessible to all AETM member.


Balancing Form with Function

The AETM wish to acknowledge the importance of architectural aesthetics and design as part of the development of learning spaces. However, of greater importance is considering these elements in relation to the function of the space, and end-user satisfaction. Successful AV projects consider many elements of the design including room layout, aesthetics, acoustics, light ambiance, lectern positions and projection surfaces.

For a design to be successful it must first and foremost consider how the rooms will actually be used by the occupants. Support and accessibility need to be considered as part of the overall solution, so that systems can be easily maintained and kept functional at all times. Finally, cost and the effort required to deliver a solution must be taken on board. Often there are multiple ways to meet a user’s requirements, and each may have different cost and time implications. These factors all need to be considered to achieve a successful outcome for all parties involved.


About the association of Audiovisual & Education Technology Management (AETM)

The AETM represents the Audio Visual professionals employed in the tertiary education sector, one of the largest and most active segments of the AV industry in Australasia. Our members are responsible for the Audio Visual technology in teaching spaces which cater for more than a million students. These comprise around 6,200 Lecture Theatres, Seminar Rooms and specialist teaching spaces which have significant Audio Visual systems installed.

The association of AETM was formed in 2001 to develop cross-university links to share expertise and provide opportunities for training and professional development. AETM members need to be widely skilled, for in addition to standard projection, PA and control systems, most Universities also manage Videoconference networks and more than half operate systems for automated lecture recording and delivery.

The Association currently organizes a national conference each year at which members present papers on important projects and new developments in their institutions. Major suppliers are invited to participate to present technical sessions relevant to the University market. The association maintains an active mailing list and discussion forum which members use to share expertise and information. The association also functions as a focal point for links with other AV organizations such as the ICIA. In 2008, AETM has established a formal link with equivalent UK professional body SCHOMS and extended the relationships between University AV specialists internationally. Members now field advice from colleagues across Britain and provide reciprocal presentations at each other’s major conferences.

To find out more about the AETM, visit the website at


AETM Design Guidelines Developers

AETM Working Party – Design Standards for Teaching Spaces
Committee Composition:

First Edition

Derek Powell University of Queensland – Chair
Robert Bull University of Newcastle
Jason Wheatley University of Sydney
Selwyn Cathcart Massey University
Reg Collins University of Technology Sydney

Second Edition

Jason Wheatley University of Sydney – Chair
Selwyn Cathcart Massey University
John Vikstrom Queensland University of Technology
Robert Cameron Swinburne University of Technology

Third Edition

Scott Dukeson University of Sunshine Coast – Chair
Nathan Ashmore University of Sydney
Nathan Gardiner Canterbury University
Richard Hallam Victoria University of Wellington
Jared Walley Deakin University



Use of these Design Guidelines by any institution or person is entirely voluntary. Users are solely responsible for the correct application of these guidelines and AETM does not assume responsibility for any loss or dispute arising from any use or misuse of these Guidelines. Compliance with the provisions of the Design Guidelines in whole or part does not confer certification or endorsement by AETM of any such complying specification, design, installation or system.


Publishing and Copyright

These Design Guidelines were first published in November 2010.

This edition © 2018 AETM.

No copying of these Design Guidelines is permitted (except for any purpose falling within the fair dealing provisions of the Copyright Act 1968) without prior written permission of the AETM. For permission, contact the President, AETM via the website at

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