KNX delivers progressive design

The O2, Dublin is a redevelopment of The Point, which famously hosted the premier of Riverdance in the interval of the Eurovision Song Contest, and remained Ireland’s premier music venue, with an iconic status for the nation. The re-launch of the venue has seen Live Nation retain parts of the original building, whilst enhancing the seating capacity, facilities and acoustics of the auditorium, transforming the site into a cutting-edge and exciting performance space. Through the tie-in with O2, Live Nation has completely branded the venue, creating the ability to reach out to audiences through mobile phone media.

The 14 month renovation has resulted in Europe’s largest purpose-built venue, drawing acts such as Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Pink and Elton John in its first few months.

The new auditorium can host a remarkable array of seating and staging arrangements, with eight standard formats including theatre mode, in-the-round, boxing and ice performance, as well as the capability to create individual layouts for specific artists. The sight-lines are also excellent, with a maximum of 60m to the stage from any seat. Seating has been designed with the acoustics in mind, with the SBS Construction using steel to sandwich a polymer layer. The space can accommodate an audience of up to 14000 people.

Rising expectations

Mike Adamson, CEO for Live Nation (Ireland), states that rising consumer expectations were a major drive behind the refurbishment, and that cutting-edge building services are integral to achieving a world-renowned venue. He stresses that the ambience and customer experience is key, and services such as lighting helps to create the full picture.

A key driver for Live Nation was also to utilise lighting control in a practical sense. Pre-show, interval and post-show lighting scenes can help to create structure for the show, and lighting in facilities such as the toilets, front of house and bars is key. Of course, with an entertainment venue of this scale safety is also paramount, with lighting control signalling exits and providing emergency lighting. Mike Adamson said: “It was also important for Live Nation to create a perception of the company as energy-conscious because utilising sustainable design fits with our brand values and is especially important when reaching out to our younger audiences.”

To provide a solution which could answer all of these key drivers, AECOM (formerly Faber Maunsell), acting as consultants on The O2, Dublin, specified Andromeda from the outset, who were then appointed by Mercury Engineering to provide a lighting control solution.

Andromeda’s KNX / DALI solution includes building-wide lighting scene control for public areas, controllable via local touch screens and a central headend. There is also local scene set control and dimming in the private bar areas, as well as local control in all back-of-house areas for override of lighting condition. The external lighting controls feature Lux sensors which activate lighting automatically at dusk. Vitally, an override function is available for periods where the building is unoccupied, such as holidays. The building’s facade features colour change sequencing and pattern selection through DALI. Similarly, the auditorium itself features colourised lightscapes, with colour change fittings and high power dimming combinations, with a portable touch screen controller. The system also provides emergency lighting control with automatic testing, monitoring and reporting, all compliant to IS 3217:2008. The complete solution contains an impressive 120 Siemens DALI Gateways, 300 Theben PIRs and 170 ABB push button interfaces.

Through this complex solution, Andromeda has provided The O2, Dublin with a customised global control system, giving them the ability to alter lighting states throughout the building. The system delivers the capabilities to create individualised lighting scenes for each show both on the facade and in the auditorium, creating varying ambience and enhancing the customer experience as desired. The system also delivers the functionality and safety required for the site through the emergency lighting solution and scene set programmes.

Going green

Importantly, the solution also has the green credentials sought by Live Nation. The KNX technology used for the project itself provides energy savings through reduced cabling, and the robust and reliant nature of the protocol reduces maintenance costs. The lighting control strategy undertaken at The O2 has also proven to reduce energy consumption by up to 60%, with presence detection and Lux sensors meaning that lighting is only active when required.

Two particular areas for technical achievement in this project are the colour change functionality and emergency lighting. Through an intense value engineering process, Andromeda managed to accommodate advanced functionality normally found in DMX systems, using a high value DALI solution, achieving substantial energy savings for the client. This involved delivering a complicated interaction of scenes between the façade, public areas, auditorium and external lighting areas. In addition to the set scenes, the client was also provided with a palette of colours, and RGB configuration capabilities, giving an incredibly wide choice of colours.

Emergency lighting

The emergency lighting solution supplied by Andromeda provides test and monitoring through a central battery / static inverter system. In a central battery system, lamp or ballast failures are continuously monitored in real-time, in addition to scheduled tests of groups of fittings or the entire system.  For the latter, the lighting control system automatically drives all emergency lights on to their maximum load at a scheduled time, and then instructs the static inverter to simulate a mains failure for the specified test duration. Any lamp or ballast failures will be reported, and retained in the historic record. As well as ensuring a safe environment for customers, these features dramatically reduce maintenance costs.

A challenge

The time-scale in which the project needed to be completed was also particularly challenging for the Andromeda team, as there was only a five month period from delivery of first panel to site to the completion of commissioning. However, Andromeda’s organised approach to project management meant that this quick turnaround was achieved whilst maintaining a positive and communicative relationship with the client.

Graham Boaler, projects director for Andromeda emphasises the success of The O2, Dublin project for the company: “The project represents important steps forward for the company and the KNX community as a whole. The O2, Dublin has proved that KNX / DALI solutions work to the relatively new Irish market, and Andromeda has taken DALI colour change capabilities to a new level of functionality. The O2 is our first completed project in Ireland, and adds to our impressive leisure portfolio which includes Colston Hall music venue in Bristol and the Arora Sofitel Hotel, Heathrow. Andromeda’s next project in Ireland will see us completing an integrated control solution at Dublin Airport Terminal 2.”

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