Robe lights Jo’burg’s Sentech Tower
Monday, 13 November 2023
robe-brixton-light-festivalSentech Tower dominates the Brixton skyline (photo: Heather Mason)
South Africa - The 2023 Brixton Light Festival in Johannesburg delivered its third – and largest to date – event filled with the magic, mystery and imagination evoked by light. It started during the covid lockdowns as a community-led and driven art-based lighting experience to unite the already tight-knit, lively and diverse neighbourhood of Brixton. The goal is to celebrate the spirit and importance of community, and the power of art and empathy.
Sound designer and Brixton resident Fried Wilsenach from Working Dog helped implement several lighting installations this year, including one illuminating the impressive Sentech Tower, a landmark that dominates the Brixton skyline and that of the surrounding Auckland Park suburb. The Tower is part of SABC’s (South African Broadcasting Corporation) broadcasting HQ which is also located there.
Fried in turn asked lighting designer Oliver Hauser – who works across a broad base of lighting sectors including television, live events and theatre, drama, comedy, opera, musicals, avant-garde dance contemporary music & conceptual performance which is where his career started – to join the team and provide ideas for the Tower illuminations. The two have been friends and colleagues for many years.
Oliver utilised Robe fixtures – two Tarrantulas, two Esprites, a Forte and a MegaPointe – as he needed serious power to throw to the top of the 237-metre-high Tower. The lights were supplied to the event by DWR as part of their sponsorship package.
He needed the most powerful lights he could source to transform Sentech into a beacon of light that was visible from all over the city, and these Robe luminaires were “exactly what I needed,” he enthused.
The fixtures were positioned on top of a garage in Fried’s garden approximately 240m away with a nice clean shot to the target.
The West side of the tower – the one facing the Brixton community – was lit up and became a signature symbol of the Light Festival.
Oliver used the two pairs of lights – Tarrantulas and Esprites – to highlight the Tower’s reinforced concrete mast section and ‘lollipop’ - a cantilevered observation deck which has been closed to the public since 1982. The Tarrantulas were used for colouring the mast which, being concrete and pale grey, took the light very well. It was divided into two areas – top and bottom – each lit with one Tarantula.
Oliver and his crew programmed around 24 lighting looks and cues in the grandMA Dot2 console, swapping between different combinations of the Robe fixtures, all of which thrilled the amassed crowds who could experience the Tower in a different, unique, and never-seen-before light for the occasion.
Other landmarks lit up as part of the Light Festival included Kingston Frost Park, one of Jozy’s oldest green spaces and the Brixton Water Tower, and other famous structures.
All installations followed the 2023 festival theme, Where the Waters meet the Light, a nod to Brixton's unique geographical location along the Witwatersrand watershed.
The industry-supported SOS Charity Fund – founded by DWR’s Duncan Riley during the pandemic to raise awareness of technical production and its contribution to the economy and social fabric of the nation – sponsored the wages of 12 crew who worked tirelessly to help make these major festival installations a reality.
DWR contributed the Robe lighting fixtures while Gearhouse Splitbeam, led by managing director Alistair Kilbee, were pivotal as the primary technical supplier, providing equipment at a significantly reduced cost.
Fried commented that the Festival is a special project that’s very close to his heart.
“Through active citizenship and continued innovation, our community strives to create a safe and friendly neighbourhood, improving the quality of life for all who are a part of it. It’s not always a straightforward process and we need to be mindful of our reality and its challenges.”

Latest Issue. . .