Kinesys in Control at Østre Gasværk Teater
Friday, 16 November 2018
kinesys-ostre-gasvaerk-teater-gas021043308The venue has functioned as a performance space since the 1970s (photo: Louise Stickland)
Denmark - Copenhagen’s magnificent Østre Gasværk Teater in the city’s Østerbro district is housed in a former gas holder once part of the old Eastern Gasworks complex, built in 1878 and designed by Martin Nyrop, also the architect of Copenhagen City Hall.
The venue has functioned as a performance space since the 1970s, however in the last year an extensive technical refit and major rigging upgrade has involved the installation of a completely new free-standing steel grid internal structure, together with a Kinesys automation system – featuring the latest Kinesys Apex chain hoists and DigiHoist control.
The theatre started off presenting alternative dance works and hosting concerts and fashion shows as well as gripping dramas. Over the years the production requirements have become steadily more complex and ambitious.
In 2016, the Østre Gasværk Theatre merged with another major cultural institution, the Republique Theatre, and Emmet Feigenberg was appointed artistic director, moving everything into a new era.
With this came - finally - the realisation that the old flying facilities were no longer realistically serviceable to stage modern productions, so with the writing on the wall, outgoing artistic director Pia Jette Hansen, the board of the building’s management company and previous production manager Frank Beck started a campaign to secure funding to make some radical changes, explained Østre Gasværk’s head of lighting Brian Njie and head of stage Jacob Frederiksen.
As a listed building and a much-loved landmark of Copenhagen’s industrial heritage, designing a workable solution for rigging inside Østre Gasværk was also a brainteaser!
None of its elegant 45 metre diameter circular circumference wall area could have anything attached to - or even touching - it.
The idea of the new 160 tonne internal steel dome – based on 16 vertical pillars and industrial grade curved roof struts, all in perfect harmony with the geometry of the space, fitting with just millimetres to spare - was a collaboration between Frank Beck, architects C&W-arkitekter & VTC / SHM, structural specialists VITA engineers and engineering consultants Balslev.
The whole Østre Gasværk technical crew – including Brian, Jacob and everyone utilising the theatre on a daily basis – had input on this solution and how it would work.
It was Rasmus Schmidt from rigging and production company Drop Rigging who first suggested the power and adaptability of Kinesys. He often works in the space and consults on the more complex rigging missions.
The theatre’s grid installation started in early 2018. It was fabricated and constructed by HSM Industri A/S - and completed a month ago with the 855-capacity venue re-opening a few days later.
The Kinesys kit includes an initial purchase of six half tonne Apex vari-speed hoists with controllers and three Kinesys fixed-speed DigiHoist controllers which are being used to run 32 x EXE-Rise hoists which are a mix of 150Kg, 600Kg and 800Kg in capacity. All of these are moving a selection of trusses in the roof that facilitate multiple lighting, audio, video and scenery positions.
The Apex hoists were selected for their high-end functionality like enhanced quietness - essential in a theatrical environment - zero speed hover, sub-millimetre accuracy and the ability to safely fly people that comes with EN61508-SIL3 and DIN56950 compliance. They are looking forward to using these for automating set pieces as well.
The first productions are already benefitting from the new flying facilities and everyone is delighted with the additional scope and efficiency of the Kinesys system. “It’s quieter, safer, an order of magnitude more reliable and hugely more dynamic than before” explains Jacob.
(Jim Evans)

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