GPAC uses LED’s as part of sustainable new venue

Posted on Friday, August 6th, 2010

After 30 years of entertaining the locals, The Ford Theatre at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre (GPAC) recently underwent an extensive makeover thanks to a $3 million grant from Arts Victoria. The theatre re-opened recently as The Playhouse; a visually appealing and technically superior 797 seat venue.

One of the key design concepts was to make the venue much more attractive on the eye than it had been previously. Studio 101 Architects took the dated auditorium and transformed it into a stylish and modern-looking venue, through a combination of green upholstered seats with walnut timber frames, padded rear auditorium walls that accentuate the green of the seats and reference the red of the new house curtain, which is all complemented by a fashionable lighting design.

Electrolight – a Lighting Design Consultancy – was contracted by Arts Victoria for the architectural lighting design of the auditorium. The role went to Mark Trubridge, whose years of theatrical lighting design experience made him the ideal man for the job.

One of the key elements of the design that became apparent in early discussions was the auditorium house lighting. The previous halogen lights in the auditorium posed a number of problems – not the least of these being how difficult it was to maintain them. For a variety of reasons, discussions led to looking at an LED solution.

Mark approached Joe Casamento of Lightmoves to develop an appropriate LED solution, which saw a series of different samples and testing before a decision was made to use Australian-made Digilin Icon downlights, contained in custom housing. The Icon’s incredible output, added to the low power usage and extended lamp life
made them the sensible and most sustainable choice. “With somewhere close to 250 fittings, technical staff where changing several halogen globes a week. The Icons should have a 15-30 year lamp life, which reduces the need for maintenance completely” says Mark when asked about the practical benefits of the fixtures.

“Furthermore, there where two unsightly winches which had to stay permanently in the auditorium purely for the purpose of changing the globes in the halogens, but now they have been removed which also adds to the improved aesthetics of the auditorium.”

Lightmoves also supplied Tridonic Talexx Engine line LED bars that were used to highlight the featured wood panelling, as well as Tridonic LED strips that were used as step lighting. All LED fixtures in the auditorium are controlled by a combination of Dynalite and Tech Art LED controllers in an accessible location. No drivers were placed in the ceiling due to the previously mentioned access issues; so all drivers are remote in the unlikely event of that maintenance or repairs are required.

The theatre staff, architects and Arts Victoria are all very happy with the result, but Mark was particularly thrilled with the result “We think it is the first auditorium of that size in Australia to be fully house light with LED’s, and I’m very pleased that it has worked so well.”

The Project Team
Kane Constructions (construction)
Studio 101 Architects
Arup (structural engineering)
Electrolight (Architectural Lighting Design)
Umow Lai (services engineering)
Marshall Day Entertech (theatre consultancy)
Marshall Day Acoustics (Acoustics)
Watters Electrical (Electrical Contractor)

www.lightmoves.com.au