Portsmouth University Students Centre

This £6.5 million project is the first University new-build of the 21st century, the result of a plan initiated in 1997. It holds up to 2,500 people, and comes complete with several spaces including a 1200 capacity nightclub – Lux, a Chill-out Bar – CO2, a Multi-national Venue, a Sports Bar – Water Hole, Coffee shop and other social areas.

CGA won a competitive tender, offered by interior designers GMP, for the lighting, sound and AV installation for three areas of the building and the reception. They worked closely with Jason Dunlop, Chief Executive of UPSU and his team to realise the project within the budget and the tight timescale.

Once the contract was secured, Chris Gunton turned to Lightfactor to supply the lighting kit needed. “I’ve worked with Lightfactor many times in the past, I know the service I can expect” he says. The project was managed for Lightfactor by Peter Coles.

The main room ceiling height is 8 metres – above average headroom for a club. Lightfactor supplied the custom-designed 19 x 4 metre long Prolyte X30D trussing superstructure, arranged in an elegant ‘W’ shape along the roof, finished in white to match the room. Lightfactor also supplied three Verlinde motors to CGA so the lighting rig could be flown in and out – for easy maintenance.

The lighting system is designed for maximum impact at night and minimum impact during daytime trading. The white look reduces distractions from the room’s internal décor, and the rig is also flexible and upgradeable for the future.

Chris chose SGM Giotto 400 fixtures – supplied by Lightfactor in white – as the core moving lights of the rig. To these he added six SGM Galileo iV 1200 scanners and two SGM Flasher 1.5 strobes – also in white. The SGM fixtures are used for all the rig’s ‘effects’.

“I chose SGM because I wanted a bright, reliable fixture” comments Chris. He adds that the Giotto Spot 400’s Frost filter saved them specifying additional wash fixtures, helping to use the budget efficiently.

During daytime, four SON floods on the main lighting rig are used to flood the dancefloor with evenly balanced light, allowing it to be used for other leisure activities.

Lightfactor supplied a LightProcessor QCommander lighting desk for controlling Lux’s effects lights, which is located in the DJ booth. A key feature for selecting this desk was the ‘Lock Out’ facility – allowing programmes to be saved and stored in a tamper-proof environment. It’s simple and easy live operation is also ideal for the application.

In the Chill-out Bar, lights are mounted along the edge of the room and on top of the raft features. Lightfactor supplied four MAD colour changer units and four Optikinetics projectors for this space. Controlled from switches behind the bar, these can project images onto the floors and walls, and the MAD fixtures can also be driven by a sound-to-light trigger.

The Sports Bar Lighting is ceiling mounted and controlled from behind the bar. The dancefloor area here includes six High End TrackSpots and a UV cannon, with four scanners to light the peripheral areas. The lighting control platform here is a LightProcessor Replica replay unit – which gives all the playback functions and facilities of the full QCommander desk, apart from the programming module, in a neat 1U rack-mounting unit.

The Student Centre’s Technical Manager, Richard Carpenter, was consulted by CGA’s team throughout the site design, installation and commissioning period.

Timescale and budget were both tight, but the most challenging element for CGA was flying the Lux rig at the required height, whilst maintaining the integrity of the room’s soundproofing. To this end, fixings to walls and ceilings were kept to an absolute minimum.

Peter Coles comments, “It’s been great to be associated with both CGA and UPSU in this landmark project”.

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