The function of buildings are changing in the sense that they can no longer have one single purpose. As costs rise and competition increases, economy is driving change. Organisations are under increasing pressure to generate more income from existing assets, seek new opportunities that can expand potential and make spaces more commercial.
White Light has a longstanding reputation of working with exhibition, facilities and event teams within the UK’s most iconic, unique and historic venues. We have recently seen an increase in venues approaching us to seek solutions to improve or rethink existing AV provision within their spaces.
One of my first recommendations is to look at the lighting opportunities within a space. Light is a very powerful medium. It is one that can influence on many levels, changing our perception of a space, our experience of the space and our emotional connection. It is thus a very valuable tool when looking for solutions to reconceive the way people engage with a space.
An example of a recent project where we have used light to benefit both the daytime experience and unlock potential for events and other uses is within the Science Museum’s iconic Making the Modern World Gallery. As one of the organisation’s oldest and most iconic galleries, it has not received technical investment since it was conceived some 15 years ago. Filled with a rich array of artifacts and historic technology, large three-dimensional exhibits and interactive displays, it creates the perfect canvas for a designed lighting scheme.
Building upon my theatrical background, my aim was to introduce a new scheme that added value to the daytime visitor experience; by making the exhibits appear more three dimensional and evoking the history and story behind them. For events, the scheme could be tailored to add colour, enrich the look of the gallery’s architecture and provide an immersive experience.
My first step with this style of project is to assess where investment will have the biggest value and benefit. Often with upgrades, a large amount of money can be spent on the infrastructure (which is never seen) thus reducing the budget available for the actual equipment that will create the desired effect(s).
I made an early decision to make use of the existing lighting positions and installed tracks, as these provided support for new fixtures and an existing electrical supply. Switching from old technologies to LED generally means that existing electrical supplies can support this change. The solution comprised of two layers of lighting, a base layer of fixed position LED spotlights (replicating the existing scheme) and a new layer of the latest automated LED fixtures. The base layer was designed to provide the core illumination for the exhibits, while the automated fixtures by their nature would facilitate a number of functions; supplementing exhibit lighting and also refocusing to light the architecture, room features and provide solutions for event lighting (stages, food stations, table spotlights etc).
Rather than choosing traditional exhibition spotlights that illuminate in a white light, I opted for slightly more advanced fixtures that could achieve the required white light for the daytime exhibit, good CRI (color rendering) but also feature colour-mixing potential to add value and dynamism to the events.
To ensure that maximum value went to the light fixtures themselves, I also introduced a wireless DMX system throughout the gallery, with all light fixtures sitting on this new network. This meant the fixtures could be controlled remotely without the need to introduce expensive and potentially invasive cabling into the gallery. This solution also provides potential for the scheme to develop should the gallery layouts change in the future.
The scheme is controlled via a pre-programmed lighting playback unit, which sits outside the gallery and connects to the wireless system. A timeclock replicated the building management scheme; switching on the system prior to the museum opening and switching it off in the evening to control power consumption. The added benefit of control allows for an operator to intervene and, via an Ipad, select a range of pre-configured colours, scenes or even build from scratch a design to suit a client’s needs.
For show-arounds, clients get the opportunity to select their own lighting which becomes a selling point for the museum. And as clients can physically see the impact of lighting within the space (rather than via pictures or visuals), this helps to sell a space more quickly, thus proving a positive ROI. It also avoids the need for event companies to bring in extra equipment of an evening, speeding up installs, reducing costs passed onto clients and minimising wear and tear on the building.
The result is a highly flexible scheme; one that delivers for all stakeholders, is future thinking and easy to adapt. It also ensures maximum investment goes into the technology rather than infrastructure. Ultimately, we were able to provide a system that came in on budget and is now providing a positive new experience for users of the gallery.
180 x SGM R2 LED RGBW Spotlights
24 x GLP X4s Automated LED RGBW Spotlights
Wireless Solutions WDMX transmitters / recievers
Interactive Technologies Cueserver 2 Control
Apple Ipad remote surfaces.