|A stunning transformation at the Royal Academy of Music has been completed, marrying sound and light in perfect harmony. The £20m scheme by Ian Ritchie Architects has completely renovated the Academy’s Susie Sainsbury Theatre, Angela Burgess Recital Hall, practice rooms and dressing rooms. |
As part of the acoustical adjustment of the 309-seat Susie Sainsbury Theatre, an imaginative and innovative lighting scheme has been created by international lighting designer Ulrike Brandi Licht. This uses bespoke RobLight fibre optic lighting and LEDs supplied by Light Projects.
600 RobLight’s fibre-optic crystals and recessed LED downlighters have been specified along with 52 RobLight FL1000 Fibre Optic LED projectors. The concept for the lighting deconstructs the traditional chandelier into an exploding theatre-wide galaxy of light through fibre-optic crystals. Further crystals are recessed in the Cherry wood wall linings which are softly illuminated from below with miniature LEDs designed specifically for this project along with custom bracketry to deliver the final vision once the ceilings had been completed.
The light from the crystals fills the entire theatre, drawing parallels with how music fills the space during a performance. The combined effect is one of a warmth, intimacy and limitless expansiveness with varied contrasts and intensities. Deservedly, the scheme has already won several awards this year including a RIBA London Award, RIBA London Building of the Year Award, RIBA National Award, NLA Culture & Community Award and RICS London Award in the Tourism & Leisure category.
Combining function with form the fibre-optic crystals installation does not only have an aesthetic visual impact, they also provide the necessary practical light levels in the auditorium for members of the audience to read their programmes under the interactive starry sky.
As the crystals are suspended directly from the fibre optics, there are no ‘moving or electronic parts’ above the Auditorium. The LED projectors powering the fibre optics are housed within two lighting risers which can be accessed from the viewing Balcony, thus ensuring ease of access should any maintenance be required in the future under the strictest acoustic noise control.
The crystal connection detail was developed in collaboration with RobLight to ensure each individual crystal is securely suspended from the fibre optic and that the fibre optic meets the back of the crystal at the optimum point to ensure the desired lighting effect is achieved.
Similarly, for the crystals embedded within the Cherry wall linings, a miniature LED fitting was developed in collaboration with RobLight to gently illuminate the crystals and give the effect of candle light, giving a reference to how theatres used to be illuminated. These LED fittings measure 20mm in diameter and 25mm in height. Again, the position of the light source in relation to the crystal has been carefully controlled to ensure that the desired lighting effect is achieved.
The light from the projectors feeds the crystals via 9,264m of PMMA optical fibre cabling discreetly hidden within the ceiling and wall cavities. This cleverly hidden infrastructure means the visual beauty of the building and lighting is not compromised while a DMX controller allows the end points to be smoothly dimmed to recreate the effect of sparkling stars. The FL1000 reduces power consumption by at least 63% compared to Halogen equivalents while the 3000K output with 90+ CRI offers a warm white light with excellent clarity.
RobLight from Roblon Lighting is exclusively available in the UK from Light Projects.