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White Light Up On the Roof at Southbank Centre

Hayward Gallery 4 © Southbank CentreSouthbank Centre is a world-famous, multi-venue arts centre based in Central London. It’s a place where over 6.2 million people a year experience world-class art and culture that stimulates, inspires, educates and amazes. Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery recently commissioned renowned artist David Batchelor to create Sixty Minute Spectrum; an art installation which transforms the Hayward Gallery roof into a chromatic clock using dramatic colour. Having worked on numerous projects at Southbank Centre, White Light was approached to provide the technical solutions to make David’s design a reality.

David comments: “I have worked with Ralph Rugoff, the Gallery’s Director, in the past and he wanted me to create something spectacular which would be a fitting way to celebrate the reopening of the Gallery. It had to be something extremely vivid that would draw people to the building”.

To achieve this, David came up with the idea of a spectrum clock to showcase a range of colours over a certain period of time. He explains: “I wanted to use the gallery’s unique pyramid rooflights to move gradually though the entire visible chromatic spectrum every 60 minutes. Starting and ending the hour with a vivid red, I wanted solid colours to appear at different points throughout the cycle. In a city the size of London, there is so much competition visually in the sky at night. We needed something to truly stand out and solid colour is a great way to achieve this”.

Hayward Gallery 3 © Southbank Centre

With David’s concept finalised, WL was approached to provide the technical solutions. The project was overseen by WL’s Systems Design Engineer Ian Davies and the on-site Installations Team was led by WL’s Engineering Manager Patrick Lockwood. Ian comments: “David’s chromatic spectrum had to be LED programmed in order for the colours to change consistently. He provided us with a diagram of how he envisaged the roof looking and we had to formulate a technical concept in order to achieve this”.

WL worked on the two roofs of Galleries 4 and 5 at the Hayward. Ian explains: “We initially had a demo running on site for three months on one pyramid to ensure we were happy with the output. Once we realised this offered enough brightness, we began with the larger install”. WL then light up the perimeter of the Hayward Gallery roofs, by lighting  38 of the 66 individual pyramids. This, in turn, gave the appearance that the whole roof was lit up.

The pyramids were fitted with 76 x RGB LED battens which were created specifically for this project by WL. To control the fittings, WL installed a new equipment rack in the Switch Room along with 2 X ISTL Thor 36 LED channel drivers to control the LED. Cabling was ran to the rooftop to feed the LED. The LED drivers were driven using a Pharos LPC2. All LED was driven in 16 bit mode to consistently deliver the various colours and ensure the fade transitions were as smooth as possible.

Hayward Gallery 2 © Southbank Centre

Ian explains: “With David’s design being so specific and dependent on timings, we had to supply a technical set up that was completely reliable”.

Following various site visits, the WL Installations Team spent two week on the rooftop to complete the technical install.

David comments: “I am absolutely delighted with the support of WL in helping to bring my design to life. We have created something dramatically striking with Sixty Minute Spectrum and it hopefully provides an exciting countdown to when the building officially reopens in January 2018”.

Photos courtesy of Southbank Centre.