GDS ArcSystem Brightens Brighton Dome

Brighton Dome is an ornate multi-arts venue that was built in 1803. Constructed as the Prince Regent’s Stables and Riding House, it became a cavalry stables before finding a new purpose as a concert venue and assembly hall as long ago as 1867. In the 1930s the building underwent an art-deco refit overseen by the architect Robert Atkinson. It is this incarnation that remains and features an 1800 capacity concert hall that stages a varied programme of top class international entertainment, including contemporary and classical music, theatre, dance, visual arts and comedy. In recent years the Dome’s technical team had earmarked a new house lighting scheme as a priority. Its existing dimmers were obsolete and channels were failing, energy consumption was high and maintenance very difficult. Integrator Stage Electrics was awarded the works to supply, install and commission an entire new house lighting and following a site visit, made an immediate suggestion that a GDS solution would be best.

Integrator Stage Electrics were to design an energy efficient house light system, with an increase in lux level, that retained the aesthetic of the auditorium without compromise. Maintaining a warm tungsten colour temperature was vital as was the capacity to take control of different areas of the auditorium via the lighting desk and Paradigm system. A low maintenance solution was essential due to challenges with high level access around weight restrictions on the auditorium floor.

The timeframe for the installation was tight, strictly limited to 4 weeks and co-ordinated around other routine maintenance works. Ensuring the least possible disruption to the venue’s busy programme of events would require meticulous planning and co-ordination ahead of the shutdown.

Having successfully installed GDS ArcSystem schemes at a number of large and prestigious venues such as Glyndebourne Opera and Sadler’s Wells, Stage Electrics was familiar with its exceptional light quality and environmental benefits. GDS visited and surveyed the site in the early stages of the project and produced detailed Dialux design detail with 3D rendering based on a final design developed between Stage Electrics and GDS. Cost comparisons carried out by GDS further underlined ArcSystem’s credentials and it was duly selected as the solution.

More than 240 ArcSystem fixtures from across the whole range (including GDS’s latest award-winning ArcLamp) were retrofitted on a like for like basis throughout the hall. These covered the stalls, circle and immediate backstage area and included emergency lighting. The install was part wired and part wireless – the listed status of the Dome limited the running of cabling in certain areas and the wireless option controlled by GDS’s ArcMesh protocol enabled the least possible intrusion where heritage issues intervened. GDS applications engineer John Blamey assisted with the completion of the system commissioning and with end-user training at handover.

The install was completed within the allocated time frame to the satisfaction of the Dome’s authorities and the system now draws a mere 4.5kW tungsten equivalent from its previous level of 18kW, reducing energy consumption to just a quarter of its previous level. The attendant cost savings will see the scheme pay for itself in 2-3 years and represents a CO2 reduction of 32 tonnes per annum.

Paul Roughton, Regional Sales Manager at Stage Electrics reflects on the installation: “We’ve worked closely with GDS on a number of projects and our experience meant that we were completely confident that ArcSystem was the best choice for the venue and specification and would meet all the needs of the brief. The team at the Dome now has significantly increased capability and flexibility in terms of setting house light scenes for a vast range of events. We enjoyed working with GDS and the Dome team to bring the project to a successful conclusion. The response from all quarters has been to say that the Dome Concert Hall has never looked so good.”

Matt Lloyd, Managing Director of GDS was happy: “Brighton Dome is a stunning venue and we’re delighted to have played a part in supplying a house light solution that by common agreement has maintained, if not improved, the beautiful aesthetic of the concert hall. The retention of the tungsten ‘look’ was a high priority at the Dome and all parties in the project agree that ArcSystem – in particular through the use of ArcLamp -meets this requirement with flying colours. In a practical sense, ArcSystem works on so many levels at Brighton. Its flexibility is important in a venue that stages a highly diverse programme and its low maintenance qualities are especially important owing to the nature of high level access. GDS ArcSystem has made this possible at Brighton Dome whilst reducing its energy consumption by three-quarters. That’s an achievement of which we are very proud. Stage Electrics were, as always, exemplary partners, who met every detailed challenge of the project with their customary calm efficiency and expertise.”

The installation of ArcSystem at Brighton Dome is another significant marker on a burgeoning list of some of the world’s most important entertainment houses. Heritage sites can present many obstacles to the updating and modernisation of technical provision but as the list of its successes proves, GDS ArcSystem is more than up to the task in every respect.