GDS ArcSystem was speedily and sensitively installed in the elegant, Victorian, St George’s Hall Bradford.
Opened by Queen Victoria and Prince Albert in 1853, The St George’s Hall in Bradford holds a special place in the theatrical history of West Yorkshire. Charles Dickens gave the first ever reading of Bleak House at the hall in 1854, Harry Houdini performed for ‘positively one week only’ in 1905 and the Halle Orchestra have been regular visitors since 1865. Throughout its century and a half of history, the venue has hosted a remarkable array of events. From hosting stage plays to political rallies – Churchill was once interrupted there by suffragettes during a speech – to being a cinema and a home for rock concerts, comedians and public meetings, this magnificent building continues to stand the test of time. St George’s Hall has twice been significantly damaged by fire and was briefly closed in 2003 following the discovery of small cracks in the ceiling. A Grade II listed building of significant historical interest, the facility is administered by Bradford Metropolitan District Council under the scrutiny of English Heritage.
GDS UK Dealer Northern Light was commissioned by the Council to install a new house lighting system into the hall, where such lighting levels were deemed unacceptable. The system was required to dramatically improve the lighting levels in a Victorian building, whilst meeting the need for efficiency and sustainability expected in a twenty-first century facility. The historical integrity of the building would be of paramount importance at every stage and there would be no facility to make any structural or cosmetic alterations. GDS was invited to supply ArcSystem, with its range of LED, fully dimmable auditorium lighting fixtures, controlled by the wireless ArcMesh protocol following a successful demonstration by Northern Light.
The restrictions presented by the historic nature of the building were readily overcome by the employment of ArcSystem. Since the system utilises the existing infrastructure, the solving of obstructive and time-consuming problems is obviated. In this case, for example, the roof void was extremely limited – a potential headache especially in the heritage context – but of little consequence to ArcSystem. In fact the roof-space provided a convenient housing for the system’sTX1 transmitter and remained otherwise untouched. Northern Light installed 112 ArcSystem Pro 1 Cell 3000k 37 deg fittings, each complete with the standard D1 driver for dimming. The fittings were mounted flush into the historic ceiling with an adapter plate utilising the existing holes.
The benefits of ArcSystem were further enhanced by the timescale of the installation, which took Northern Light only three days to complete. The positive economic implications of such a brief shut-down are obvious in terms of the hall’s programme of events, which could be said to have been only minimally affected. As well as the practical and economic advantages of the system, its sustainability was underlined in this project not just by its low-energy characteristics but by the fact that the system was commissioned from GDS HQ in Bristol. This was achieved by dialling in and remotely accessing the system, saving time, money and the carbon footprint associated with the traditional, now unnecessary, need to travel to the site. Further emphasising the system’s sustainability credentials, the end-users were trained in the operation of the system via a GDS web portal, again, maximising technology to reduce environmental impact.
Northern Light’s Keith Mitchell observed that:
“Aside from any other consideration, the principal task at hand was to ensure that we significantly improved the light levels in the building and ArcSystem provided us with brightness to spare. The demands placed on installers working in listed heritage sites can be very challenging and this system is ideal in the face of such constraints…“
Chris Barlow, Technical Electrics Manager for Bradford Theatres was very enthusiastic about the outcome of the installation:
“It isn’t simply that the levels of lighting in the hall have been increased – although they certainly have – but more that the quality of lighting has added a warmth to the building that we have never had before. The tangible enhancement that ArcSystem has provided would prompt me to recommend it without hesitation in any similar situation. Factor in the speed and straightforward nature of the install and one would have to say that the system is a winner in every respect.“
In the light of ArcSystem’s presence in an increasing number of historically significant and listed buildings, it is clearly establishing a reputation as a universal, flexible, cost effective and sustainable choice for architects, consultants and installers alike.