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News in pictures 23 March 2011

Barco helps W London become biggest electronic artwork in the capital; Hamburg Airport celebrates 100th birthday with Blue Noise and Meyer Sound; Lila Cockrell Theatre adds Robert Juliat Cyrano followspots; In the City with Anolis

Designed by award-winning architects Jestico + Whiles, the glamorous W London – Leicester Square has won the ‘Special tribute to UK Country of Honour’ at the International MIPIM awards in Cannes.

Developed by McAleer & Rushe, the new 192-bedroom luxury ten-storey hotel also houses retail, leisure and residential accommodation spread over 200,000 sq ft, including a spa, 11 penthouse apartments and a new 35,000 sq ft retail-leisure experience provided by a leading global brand.

Jestico + Whiles’ design allows for the façade of the building to function like a vast pixellated screen – the first of its kind in the UK – capable of projecting dynamic light installations in an exciting new collaboration between contemporary architecture and art. This striking visual effect is achieved by a sophisticated ceramic frit applied to the optically corrected glass of the building’s outer skin, allowing it to ‘hold’ and project the light, without obstructing views outwards from the guestroom windows. The façade of the hotel has been wrapped in a second skin of frameless glazing, which is suspended from the face of the building like a floating sheer veil and etched with an undulating, abstract pattern, reminiscent of the folds in a theatre curtain and evoking the cinematic legacy of the locale.

The opening commission has been designed by well-known London based electronic artist Jason Bruges, who has prepared a conceptual interpretation of the changing light dynamics in Leicester Square across the preceding 24 hours. The installation works by translating video footage captured by hidden cameras mounted on the roof-space of the building, which is converted using time lapse photography into short performances and streamed at regular intervals onto the veil during the hours of darkness.

Light fittings set into the outer main wall are loaded with hundreds of energy-efficient Barco lights, which afford movie quality colour mixing and rendering to provide an infinite number of combinations and effects. The light intensity and colour saturation of the veil are controlled by a sophisticated interface from within the hotel, allowing the presence of the building to alter as day turns to night. During the day, W London is calm, cool and restrained – whilst by night, the glass veil becomes an animation of glowing light and possibly the biggest electronic artwork in London.

Germany’s Hamburg Airport claims to be the world’s oldest airport still at its original location, with its first flights taking off in January, 1911. Exactly 100 years later, the airport celebrated by hosting live music and presentations on five stages. Carrying the festivities to 3,500 attendees were Meyer Sound systems highlighting the new MINA line array loudspeaker provided by Blue Noise of Hamburg.

Staged in the airport’s cavernous (6,200 sq m) Terminal 1, the event featured a 30-minute show on airport history along with performances by artists hailing from the airport’s far-flung destinations. According to Blue Noise managing director Hendrik Rogel, the combination of a highly reverberant space and simultaneous programs on multiple stages presented an extraordinary challenge. “The terminal is made of metal, glass, and marble,” he notes, “so we had to avoid sending sound towards these surfaces. The precise and consistent coverage of Meyer Sound’s UltraSeries loudspeakers and MILO family line arrays helped us to fulfill this demand flawlessly.”

The main system for the large central stage comprised 24 Melodie line array loudspeakers in four arrays, while the four smaller satellite stages each deployed six of the newest (and smallest) member of the MILO family, the MINA line array loudspeaker.

As part of a $17 million renovation, San Antonio’s Lila Cockrell Theatre (LCT) has augmented its lighting inventory with three Robert Juliat Cyrano HMI 2500W hot restrike followspots purchased from dealer Texas Scenic.

LCT is located in the Convention Facilities’ complex in the shadow of the Tower of the Americas, a permanent legacy of the 1968 San Antonio World’s Fair. The theatre offers more than 2,300 seats on three levels; its main stage spans 113 x 60 feet and boasts an orchestra pit, integrated performance audio system, AV infrastructure for cameras and projectors, a fully-networked stage and architectural lighting system and a complement of manually-operated counterweight sets with motorised stage electrics.

Fritz Schwentker, theatre consultant with WJHW, handled the systems design and equipment specification for the major renovation. “We had worked with the local technical staff at the theatre, and they had some existing followspots that were bright and punchy but at the end of their life cycles. We looked at lot of trade shows and talked with stagehands to get their opinions on the replacement,” he says. The consensus: Robert Juliat Cyrano followspots.

Cyrano is a compact and efficient followspot with a high-performance quartz condenser optical system. It features a 3°/8° zoom range lens system, 100% closing iris within a removable cassette; 100% closing manual dimmer/dowser; progressive frost, correction filter, adjustable yoke, gobo holder; and 6-way boomerang colour changer with removable filter frames.

The City Club in Rožnov is one of the most popular night destinations in Moravia, Czech Republic. It boasts a stunning contemporary design for the whole space – which also includes a coffee bar, a small casino and a restaurant as well as the action packed dancefloor – by architect/interior designer Karel Janča; and a high-tech lighting installation from locally based Robe lighting. Now the time has come to upgrade the environmental lighting in the club area.

Independent owner Pavel Ze was so pleased with the service and support that he received from Robe lighting that he asked its sister company, Anolis, via Czech sales manager Petr Kolmačka, to come up with an interesting, eye-catching eco friendly lighting scheme that would transform the general atmospherics in the club area.

Kolmačka had an open brief apart from the fact that the end result had to look “absolutely stunning, modern and now.” He came back with the idea that the DJ should be able to change the mood of the room – not just the dancefloor – with different colours.

A total of 36 Anolis ArcLink flexible LED strips are installed behind the two large bars in the club, and these colour change through the metal front fascias which are cut out with gobo style patterns. The bottle shelves are also back lit with more Arc-Links.

Eleven ArcSource TwinWall 6 RGB wall washing fixtures are used to bathe the back wall behind the stage with bold colours, with three ArcLine 36 battens skimming down a mirrored textured wall to the side of the DJ booth. Underneath the banquette seating on the other side of the dancefloor are four ArcLine 24s, providing a nice, moody, low level ambience for this area.

Kolmačka wanted to make a lighting feature over the bar that was something a bit quirky and different. He was inspired when he saw some standard puffball lights (for domestic use) constructed from many thousands of fibre strands. He decided to customise these by embedding a single Anolis ArcSource 3 RGB LED module in the middle, which has the effect of radiating pulses and sweeps of rich colours beautifully along the fibre threads, creating a truly unique lightsource.