American School opens new auditorium
Monday, 4 July 2016
American School opens new auditoriumDenis Hutchinson and Dave Whitehouse of DWR
South Africa - A new auditorium, which will serve as both a theatre and meeting point for assemblies and award evenings, has been built at The American International School of Johannesburg (AISJ). Theatre consultant Denis Hutchinson was on board both architecturally and for the technical specifications.

On the theatre lighting side, DWR Distribution was responsible for the supply of all the cabling and the data network for the equipment which includes an MA Lighting dot2 console, Philips Strand Lighting 6 Pack dimmer, two Strand Relay Racks and 10 Robe Robin DLX Spots. Further, DWR's Rob Young and his team designed and installed a flying system, retractable seating for the Orchestra Pit and two hand operated curtain tracks.

Whilst in the United States on another project, Denis came across something that triggered the idea of making the theatre a completely LED lighting installation. "There are many advantages to going the LED route including not having to change lamps, lower power requirements, no gels, all things schools often struggle with," he says. "Until now, the quality of LED units has not really been good enough for facial light, but with the arrival of a new generation of units which have good colour rendering, decent fade curves and affordability, that situation has totally changed." The school was totally behind him.

LED changes the cable infrastructure. "One of the things I suddenly realized, because of the way the better LED lamps are designed, is that I don't need a single 16Amp BS socket anywhere in the building. I can do everything on Powercon, and the great joy of putting everything onto Powercon, is that nobody can plug a vacuum cleaner in or the urn or anything else... we've all had our systems blown because of that! Also, there's much less likelihood of nicking an extension cable that is Powercon to Powercon than there is of nicking an extension cable that is 16Amp to Janus as you can't use it for anything else."

A Philips Strand Lighting 6 Pack dimmer was added to the install, mainly because in the school's other little theatre they have conventional generics and Denis wanted to give them the option of bringing gear across should they have a particularly large show or if somebody else came in with gear. It enables them to run some conventionals and there is enough power to put in an extra rack if need be, but so far the school team have worked entirely on the rig and the new technology provided to them, which for Denis is fantastic.

The American School now has a totally up to date technical installation. For Denis the project has enabled him to think differently about future lighting installs and he is looking forward to the next one.

(Jim Evans)

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