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Bespoke LED-based system for the Sage Gateshead

07 December 2011
by Phil Haldane , under Lighting products | Installations


We have replaced the house lighting for two auditoriums within the Sage Gateshead, one of the UK’s leading music venues. The project required our team to overcome a number of significant technical challenges and work to a tight deadline and on a restricted budget. To get the job done we used our specialist rigging skills and installed a bespoke LED-based system that provided the flexibility, long life, low running costs and low heat output that the client required.

“Thank you to all the staff at Black Light involved with the Sage Project, for all the hard work and attention to detail, greatly appreciated,” said John Wilkinson from Gateshead Council. “The end result looks stunning.”

The brief for the £150K project was to replace an existing tungsten-based system that was proving expensive and unreliable. The replacement system had to fit neatly and inconspicuously within an existing C-section extruded housing and this posed a significant design and installation challenge. Another key technical challenge related to the colour temperature of the new illumination. This had to meet strict criteria - to maintain the original appearance of the venues’ balcony fronts and ceiling panels. Typical LED sources were not suitable, as they were not ‘warm’ enough. To decide on the right solution, we ran several on-site demonstrations of potential equipment.

The installation of the finalised system involved working at heights; it also had to be done with minimum cost and disruption. To meet this challenge, our in-house rigging expert, Craig Collin, developed an innovative system using Prolyte Catwalk Truss and hoists.

The project’s deadlines were critical as the venues had to open for a key scheduled performance. We therefore drafted in a large installation team who completed the job quickly. Once the new system was installed it was integrated with the ETC Dimming and Control system that we had installed previously.  

“We had already proved that we were capable of delivering an on-time and on-budget refurbishment, when we worked at the Sage Gateshead in 2010,” said Head of Company Development, Phil Haldane. “On this project, we showed that we have access to a wide range of equipment suppliers and therefore can chose the  most appropriate equipment for the job in hand. We also proved that our people have the range of creative, electrical and access skills required to deliver the highest quality results on even the most complex project.”

The Sage Gateshead is both a live music venue and a centre for music education. It is an international home for music and musical discovery, bringing about a widespread and long-term enrichment of the musical life of the North East of England. Its inclusive approach enables all of the venue’s performance, learning and participation programmes to be constantly inspired and supported by each other.