Aqua Terra Zoo in the heart of Vienna secured with Xesar
“At 66 years old, life begins...”, Udo Jürgens’ old bargain fits beautifully with the Haus des Meeres, whose history began exactly 66 years ago in 1957. Located in a former flak tower from the 2nd World War, the Haus des Meeres started off as “Austria’s first seawater exhibition”. Over the decades, this has developed into a zoo that is now recognised worldwide and certified five times over. The visitor numbers are also impressive. The scientifically managed zoo not only takes the numerous visitors through a wide range of themed areas with more than 10,000 animals, such as mangrove aquariums, shark pools and deep-sea departments, but also devotes itself to the breeding and conservation of endangered species. Since its inception, it has now recorded 14 million visitors.
The building was continuously expanded, all floors were gradually opened, and most recently, with the major renovation in 2020, a separate building was built in front of the existing yard. A reinforced concrete structure weighing around 9,000 tonnes, measuring 30 x 12 m and around 50 m tall without interior fittings and with an aluminium-glass facade was suspended from the 55,000 tonne reinforced concrete giants – all while maintaining ongoing operations. The restaurant “360° Ocean Sky” is one of Vienna’s most spectacular all-round views on the roof terrace. It is crowned by a solar roof that additionally supplies all new zoo areas with their own electricity. The highest green wall in Austria is also outstanding, where 8,600 plants not only provide a special small climate, but also eliminated the problem of crumbling concrete.
Various requirements under one roof
In addition to its special design, the zoo houses a wide range of departments, such as zoo areas and animal care departments for salt water, mammals, birds, fresh water and reptiles, which need their own areas. There is also catering, a back office, building services and so on. There are now around 120 employees, each with different tasks and areas of responsibility, which usually have nothing to do with each other. In addition, there are around 70 external employees, from service technicians and suppliers to security. It was important to separate the areas of access and security early on. In the beginning, this was only possible with a mechanical master key system.
The step towards an electronic solution
Early on, the team at the Haus des Meeres began looking for an electronic solution. The ongoing expansion of the range was also a particular challenge: Whereas there used to be around four different locking groups, today it is necessary to differentiate between around 15 and 20 different security profiles to which employees are assigned according to their tasks. The simple issuing, blocking or changing of access authorisations via the online administration is another bonus.
Moving away from mechanical keys
Since 2017, the Haus des Meeres has been using the Xesar electronic access solution. Thus, it is well on the way to eliminating the need for mechanical keys, except when they are kept as a back-up for safety reasons, such as access to the diving pools. Here, a mechatronic solution was deliberately retained in order to grant quick and secure access in an emergency.
A particular challenge was the step-by-step setup of Xesar while retaining the previous master key system. It also took until the battery runtime was optimally set. The initial configuration of the software was also a particular challenge.
Around 200 cylinders are now in use, but escutcheons are also being used more and more. Escutcheons are mainly used in areas where fixed times can be programmed. Philipp Heinzl explains: "I’m programming for access to the zoo: open at 6 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. From then on, access to the zoo is automatically locke while the restaurant can continue to be visited."
...for an ever more complex environment
Over the years, the challenges and demands placed on access systems are becoming ever greater and more complex. This requires good service, technical support and competent partners who can then install the solutions on site quickly and easily. This should all work together seamlessly. Ideally, it can also be integrated into existing systems.