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Northern Light Delivers Ultimately Flexible System to NST City.

Nuffield Southampton Theatres City (NST City) is a new, state-of-the-art arts complex in the Cultural Quarter of Southampton. It needed highly flexible solutions for its production lighting, performance audio visual systems, which have been recently been installed by specialist installer and integrator, Northern Light in a half million pound plus year-long installation.

The history of the NST dates back to 1964 when, with support from the Nuffield Foundation, the University of Southampton built a theatre on its campus for the people of Southampton. NST City is its second venue. Sited in the very heart of the City, it houses a fully flexible 450-seat main house which doubles as a cinema, a 133-seat black-box studio, workshop, rehearsal space and screening facilities, as well as offices, bar, café and a restaurant.

“Northern Light was selected through competitive tender to supply and install the production lighting and performance sound systems,” says Richard Bunn from Arup, who designed the system. “We were delighted with the way that they responded to our specifications and the particular requirements of the Nuffield Southampton Theatres tenant.”

Working to Arup’s specification, and directly for builder and main contractor Galliford Try, Northern Light provided a full technical package including lighting, sound and video, as well as a roof mounted satellite dish to receive broadcast from the National Theatre.

The AV infrastructure has been designed to support future and emerging protocols, with integration being given at this time for both Dante and MADI, as well as traditional analogue and AES connectivity, with a fibre backbone linking the rack rooms and running out into both auditoriums. Well-known for its attention to detail, as well as supplying and installing the equipment, Northern Light manufactured and installed 156 facility panels and five equipment racks for lighting, sound and comms as well as a bespoke stage management desk and its own paging stations from sister company, Stage Electrics. The Stage Electrics in-house cable workshop provided a range of over 260 custom made, tour-grade cables, including EtherCON, DMX, mains and multi-cores.

 “We installed, terminated and tested all the AV and lighting control cabling - over 20,000m in all - and supplied both the building-wide paging system and the house and work light control systems, which were programmed and commissioned by Northern Light’s Steve Chappell,” says Project Manager, Matthew Addison. “We included a dimming system which can work as dimmed, relay or constant power for a range of lighting sources. This has the advantage that it can be used for LED lighting in the future, making sure NST City’s environmental credentials are to the fore.” 

Northern Light supplied a combination of ETC and Selecon lighting fixtures and ETC Gio and Ion XE lighting consoles for the two auditoria. Audio equipment included a complete suite of EM Acoustics loudspeakers, as well as a DiGiCo SD9 and Allen & Heath QU-24 mixing consoles, plus Genelec 8020D monitor speakers for the control room.

The cinema system  for the main auditorium also features a Barco 12K projector – and, at the press of a button, the Northern Light commissioned DSP can switch between FOH sound for theatre and cinema surround sound - as well as a Sennheiser infrared assisted listening system. For added flexibility, portable PA and production lighting equipment was also provided, which can be used in any part of the complex.

“We have relished the challenge of creating spaces capable of delivering the City’s vision of a new home for the arts in this City centre site,” says Arup’s Richard Bunn. “Our design incorporates technical systems that flexibly adapt the spaces to support artistic freedom and a broad range of uses. After years of anticipation, it is exciting to see them delivering the ambitious activities produced by the three creative tenants and the buildings being used to bring new experiences and opportunities to the City’s diverse communities.”

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