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GDS announces largest ArcSystem installation to date

The installation, at Portsmouth's premier entertainment venue, the Guildhall. comprises 202 fixtures, controlled by the ARC Mesh protocol. It was designed by Drama By Design and installed by ICE Electrical.

GDS has announced the completion of the largest ArcSystem installation to date, with 202 fixtures installed at Portsmouth’s Guildhall.

The installation comprises 48 Pro 4 Cell fixtures (two of which are dual input emergency fixtures), 62 Pro 2 Cell fixtures (10 of which are dual input emergency fixtures) and 92 Decor 1 Cell fixtures (14 of which are dual input emergency fixtures). The system is controlled by two TX1 Master Transmitters and 1 x 6-channel control desk via GDS control software.

The Guildhall is Portsmouth’s premier entertainment venue, playing host to everything from orchestral concerts, comedy, rock concerts, dance and exhibitions. In addition, it houses the city’s Council chamber, as well as being home to numerous local groups and services. The original Guildhall was completed in 1890 having been designed by Leeds architect William Hill but during the Second World War it was extensively damaged and had to be rebuilt. Portsmouth Guildhall was re-opened in 1959 by HM the Queen.

Drama by Design were engaged by Portsmouth City Council to design and specify a new house lighting system for the Guildhall, which was supplied by Hawthorn Theatrical and installed by local contractor ICE Electrical. The management of the venue wished to expand its range of use, particularly during the day, to include conferencing and similar events. Previous complaints that the existing house lighting was simply not bright enough had meant bringing in outside equipment and so the decision was made to install a new system. Drama by Design recommended that, if installing a new system, it would be sensible to move to a more efficient and sustainable system. After reviewing a number of options, GDS ArcSystem was selected, a range of LED auditorium lighting fixtures, dimmable from 0%-100% using the wireless ARC Mesh protocol.

According to the company, ArcSystem was selected for its superior capacity to provide even illumination with good colour rendering and dim smoothly to any required level. As the down time available in the venue to install the system was limited, the ability to use the wireless operation to reduce the amount of wiring and therefore time required on site was a significant consideration. During certain events such as orchestral concerts, there is a requirement to leave the houselights on the audience at very low levels and ArcSystem is claimed to offer the highest quality solution in this respect. In one area of the hall, specifically underneath the balcony, the existing standard light fittings appealed aesthetically – visitors were keen on the ‘theatrical look’ and so GDS developed a bespoke fitting that retained as closely as possible the existing non-recessed appearance, whilst still providing high quality lighting.

“The system is excellent,” said Andy Stone, theatre consultant from Drama by Design. “The products are great. They were very easy to install, with the result that we were ahead of the schedule we’d set ourselves. As with any project there were some teething problems, in this case associated with the wireless control, but these were down to the nature of the overall building rather than the kit and GDS were quick to help us overcome them. ArcSystem has delivered a dramatic improvement in lighting levels and will reduce maintenance and running costs, so I’d imagine the management of Portsmouth Guildhall will consider their brief well and truly met.”