Stagetec (UK) Ltd has completed a contract to design, supply and install a complete sound and lighting system for the new Chafford Hundred school campus in Grays. The split-level building is imaginatively designed by Nicholas Hare Architects, with a central lift and an impressive atrium. Built for the future, it combines the principles of energy saving with a flexible space for learning and recreation.

In the building’s central section are the halls, drama studio, dining areas, sports hall, public library and specialist facilities geared towards art, technology, music and science. The primary and secondary wings extend either side of these shared spaces, each with its own secure entrance. Stagetec’s design brief was to provide a simple-to-use system that offered the latest technology and was suitable for school productions and additionally, for when the space is used by the local community.

The versatile performance space features a hall with an end-on stage. A sound proof screen can be pulled across the stage front, allowing the stage-side space to be used as a drama studio, while the hall itself can be utilized simultaneously for other activities. Two separate systems are therefore installed - that can be combined when required. Stagetec designed and installed a lighting system with an internally wired lighting grid above the stage/drama studio area, and with lighting bars along the length of the main hall. Power for these comes via 60 channels of the new LSC iPRO digital dimmers, mounted on the wall of the drama studio.

The two control systems are driven by a Zero 88 Level 12 Plus DMX desk for the main hall, and a Compulite Photon for the drama studio. The Photon can also control the complete installation if desired. A Compulite DMX merger enables both consoles to drive the dimmers simultaneously, and a softpatch facility ensures each system can only drive the dimmers in its relevant area.

The sound system had to provide top quality audio. It was also important that it was ‘fail-safe’ when used by non-technical staff and incoming theatre companies. Stagetec specified a Nexo system consisting of a pair of PS10 main speakers, driven from the Nexo PS10 dedicated amplifier/controller. The integrated controller provides crossover, sensed amplifier control and system equalization. This set up fully protects the system with features like precision dynamic, voice coil temperature and diaphragm displacement protection. It does this via selective voltage controlled equalizers that reduce levels only from frequencies when and where necessary. A Soundcraft M8 mixer is the core of the sound system. The project also includes a Sennheiser InfraRed hard of hearing system, stage curtains and tracks - all installed by Stagetec.

(Ruth Rossington)

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