NZ Organ lit with Pulsar ChromaFlood 200 TriColours

Posted on Thursday, December 2nd, 2010


In the mid-1990s the Auckland Town Hall was restored to its original splendour, but the organ was largely untouched, apart from moving the console back to its former position in the centre of the façade.

Around the turn of the century, the growing dissatisfaction of musicians prompted City Organist Dr John Wells to seek a solution. Preliminary investigations led to the formation of the Auckland Town Hall Organ Trust, the appointment of international consultant Ian Bell of London and the calling of world-wide expressions of interest from organ builders. The aim was to ‘restore the splendour of the town hall organ.’

Following the subsequent tendering process, the Auckland City Council signed a contract with one of Germany’s largest organ building companies, Orgelbau Klais of Bonn for $3.5 million. The city provided $3 million; the rest came from public subscription through an ‘adopt-a-pipe’ scheme administered by the Trust.

Having spent so much money on restoring the organ it was a shame to not light it up in all of its glory and so initially ten PAR64 fixtures mounted on H-stands around the floor were used. However they were unsatisfactory due to the heat they generated and the large amount of power they required.

Malcolm Ibell, Head of Lighting for the entire The Edge precinct that includes the Aotea Centre, The Civic, Auckland Town Hall and Aotea Square started to look around for an alternative solution.

He had to bear in mind that the Town Hall is a Class 1 Heritage building constructed entirely of timber and special permission is required to do even the smallest of projects.

”Being wooden the building is one big flame waiting to happen and so LED lighting seemed a safer alternative,” said Malcolm. “Unfortunately I found that hardly any LED fixtures on the market were tri-colour and with the organ having so many angles, I couldn’t use any LED fixtures that created weird coloured shadows.”

Fortunately Malcolm soon found his ideal fixture in the Pulsar ChromaFlood 200 TriColour and consequently he recommended the purchased of eight. The ChromaFlood200 TC features 66 TriColour LEDs, with a maximum power consumption of 200 watts. These fixtures are proving to be an important product for LED lighting in both architecture and entertainment as they produce mixed colour within the unit, eliminating multicoloured point sources and multicoloured shadows.

“There are so many more reasons why I went with the Pulsar fixtures; there are no moving parts, no fan and the maximum temperature they ever get to is about 40 degrees after they have been on for days,” added Malcolm.

These factors were particularly important due to the fact that the ChromaFloods are situated within the floor of the top wooden step and although access isn’t too difficult – just a case of lifting the 18mm thick glass cover – Malcolm also wanted a low maintenance solution.

”Once I had figured out what I wanted to do, I got the heritage consultants and the city council on board and they were happy for holes to be cut in the step,” he explained. “The glass is thick enough for people and roadcases to travel over in safety.

Malcolm is extremely impressed by the ChromaFlood’s lens system and impeccable dimming capabilities.

”The ChromaFloods have a really cool lens system that allows you to unscrew the top and use different lenses,” he said. “Most are 25 degree except the ones in the centre by the console which are 25 x 12 degrees – more like an oval par can shape so they fire up onto the pipes and not the wood around them. It’s pretty cool being able to experiment with the lenses to work out which work the best.

“The ChromaFloods have amazing dimming – by far the best I’ve ever seen in an LED fixture. They don’t flicker at low levels which is important as the venue hosts a lot of television work.”

Malcolm did a fine job producing a cost benefit analysis around the use of LEDs working out the cost of running them over a lifetime.

“Although manufacturers give LED fixtures a lifetime of 100,000 hours I did my calculations on 50,000 hours of life with out bulb or gel costs, labour costs for maintenance and power savings. By doing this I was able to show the number-crunchers how quickly they paid themselves off. I’m a real convert to them and I’m hoping to add some more to the rest of the venue.”