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Newcastle PFI

 

Multi Performance Spaces within one Project

Education InstallationStage Electrics was commissioned by Sir Robert McAlpine to work with the staff of six new-build school created under Newcastle's BSF (Building Schools for the Future) scheme.

The objective was to create a custom-designed performing arts technology system for each of the schools, with most of the individual locations beingeither multi-purpose rooms, typically combining assembly hall, performance space and sports functions, ordedicated music or drama studios.

Having successfully undertaken two earlier projects with Sir Robert McAlpine, Stage Electrics was tasked with designing these individual school systems. They were all managed as a single project across multiple sites with a tight overall budget, with each installation designed in close conjunction with the individual school's staff to ensure the precise needs for each site were met with the optimum technology solutions.

The Stage Electrics team placed considerable emphasis on each component's suitability for use in the school
environment, to ensure its usability by school teachers and, where appropriate, by pupils, and a crucial step in achieving this was to meet and engage with the end users. Hardware was selected for reliability and
high performance-to-cost ratio based upon experience of individual brands.

A further design consideration for the overall project was to have commonality of equipment between sites, sothat staff moving between schools would find familiar equipment and techniques in use.

The six sites, all in Newcastle Upon Tyne, are the primary schools at Spotsfield Avenue, Walkergate and West Jesmond; Walbottle and Kenton secondary schools; and the Thomas Bewick school, an all age specialistprovision for children and young people with autism (3-19 years).

The Primary Schools

Drama LightingAt the three primary schools, Stage Electrics installed audio, lighting, staging and curtain track systems into
each school's main multi-purpose hall, as well as music rooms.

The systems were designed for general day-to-day use for presentations, school plays concerts. Each
system was specifically designed for use by pupils, with the exception of equipment that involves working at height.

Simplicity of use was paramount, along with durability and high value. In every instance industry-standard
equipment was used and carefully integrated to form a coherent system, including connector panels, wall
boxes etc.

An exception was at Thomas Bewick where the school's requirement that every visible item had to be
custom finished in powder coated white was taken into account.

The primary schools' audio systems comprise RCF ART Series speakers, Yamaha amplification, Allen &
Heath mixing desks, Tascam playback machines and Sennheiser radio and infra red systems.

Lighting systems are straightforward and employ rugged industry-standard equipment, including Zero88 lighting control desks and dimming, Selecon lanterns and Hall Stage T60 track.

The Secondary Schools

Drama LightingAlong with each school's main halls and music rooms, the secondary schools' requirements also included audio systems in sports halls and drama studios. These schools provide dedicated drama classes and performing arts courses, requiring a high level of versatility from the technical systems. Again the equipment specified was designed to allow student operation and involvement, while keeping the facilities straight forward to use from industry standard products.

Some of the music and drama studios presented particular design challenges, in particular low ceiling heights, which posed the issue of positioning lighting fixtures to permit a very compact space to be lit creatively and flexibly.

Specifications for the main halls required the full integration of technical performance systems to facilitate their use as multi-purpose spaces.

RCF Acoustica, Monitor and ART Series speakers were selected throughout, with Tascam playback and live microphone sources mixed on Roland RSS M400 audio control desks via lightweight, robust digital multicores. Yamaha control consoles were also specified for specific locations and all systems are powered by Yamaha amplification. Sennheiser radio microphones and infra red assisted hearing systems complete the audio spec.
For lighting, once again industry-standard equipment was selected, providing a creative blend of light source types (conventional, moving and LED) with Zero 88 lighting control and dimmers in command of each system via Swisson DMX distribution.

Lighting fixtures include ETC and Selecon lanterns with Apollo scrollers, Q-Maxz moving heads and Showtec LED strips, while staging requirements are met by Hall Stage T60 & T70 Track and Prolyte Stagedex systems.



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