For this proscenium theatre renovation, the challenge of spatial limitations, acoustical reviews, and budget, resulted in a unique design that combines, art, technology, and a learning tool for the University and surrounding community.

The initial wall-and-ceiling-integrated architectural lighting was rejected by the acoustical consultant. Initially, the thought of using a central chandelier as a lighting statement was hampered by the follow-spot location and its need for a raking angle that nearly followed the ceiling line. Also, the existing building shell only afforded a small amount of recess depth above the theatre’s ceiling plane.

The resulting flattening, and retractable chandelier was the leading solution. To achieve this, an internal linear actuator slides the centre shaft, drawing the support rings together or apart. By offsetting the diameter of the rings, each tier’s arms exhibit a different range of motion. This creates three tiers of various levels of “openness”. In the flattened position all 21 arms are arranged in a radial pattern. The varying positions and perspectives of the chandelier allows more programming opportunities to communicate stories and effects.

The section study attached is illustrative.  The green is the deployed chandelier, the blue is the flattened state (preparing for stowing), and the red shows the final stowed chandelier.

Two runs of RGBA chips every 0.75” line the sides of the chandelier arms to allow an immense possibility of colours and effects. A special lens was researched and selected to create sparkle yet obscure view and blend colour of diodes. Multiple mock-ups of joints, lenses and wiring with the manufacturer ensured the robust mechanical elements remain elegant.

Leaving the rest of the house lighting quite simple, the budget from the intended architectural lighting could be redirected towards the chandelier, and supplemented with some educational and community arts funds. The end result uses bold colours and effects to change the feel of the space from a single focal fixture.

During commissioning five shows were programmed into the system. Standard effects are compiled and arranged into themed shows that relate to the chandelier shape and position such as flowers blooming, swirling storm, and colour explosion. These controls tie into the theatrical controls system and all lighting shows and house lighting scenes can be triggered via touchscreen lighting board.

Importantly, the chandelier is a working tool for the students, allowing them to program the lighting effects to fit the storyline of their performances.  The infrastructure allows a laptop connection via Ethernet port in the theatre for live programming. Shows can then be saved and triggered via touchscreen or lighting board. This system allows the student experience and exposure to the latest entertainment software broadening their knowledge of the industry and potential professional opportunities.

The attached video shows a compilation of the chandelier deploying and retracting within the space. The last scene shows the chandelier view from below.


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