Dubai Opera House


  • Dubai Opera House
  • Dubai Opera House
  • Dubai Opera House

Products used

189 bespoke DR7 luminaires feature in an innovative scheme from Neolight for Dubai’s new Opera House.

The new Dubai Opera House has pushed the limits of design and innovation in its conception as a new cultural hub for the city, and 189 bespoke luminaires from RCL contribute to a technical marvel that provides a fully-flexible environment for concerts, galas, and exhibitions.

Designed by global architectural consultants, Atkins, the Dubai Opera House features a 2,000-seat multi-format theater. The vision for the development was that of a venue that, while hosting cultural performances within, would also transmit its energy and excitement to the whole community, making full use of its surrounding space.

As such, Atkins’ design for the building is focused on drawing people into the venue’s cultural and artistic offerings. The Opera House was developed to be as transparent and welcoming as possible; the glass frontage comprises 1,710 individual façade and mullion sections and 1,270 individually-sized glass panels, while the 360-degree lobby is fully integrated within the nearby surroundings.

Requirement for flexible lighting to suit transforming interior space

A key consideration in the overall development of the structure was an emphasis on the Opera House’s distinct ability to transform internally to host opera, theater, concert, exhibition, banquet, and conference occasions. This involved the incorporation of a number of innovative architectural features, including electronically moving floors and walls, offering different layout configurations.

International lighting design practice, Neolight, was invited to deliver a lighting scenario that not only showcases the stunning architecture of the venue but also delivers an extremely energy and cost-efficient lighting solution. Intriguingly, the design concept also called for no external lighting to be used; lighting is integrated within the building’s vertical columns only, with no external illumination. The lit effect of the external Opera House resembles a dhow, the ancient Arab sailing vessel, symbolic of the opera house’s location by the waterside, delivering a warm glow to onlookers and accentuating the transparency of the venue, seeing guests inside the building.

Neolight’s aim was to integrate the lighting into this flexible internal structure seamlessly. The lighting for the Opera House auditorium had to meet the huge demands of the multi-format space which has the exceptional ability to transform into three modes; from a theater into a concert hall, and a “flat floor” mode for a banquet or an event.

Gary Thornton, Senior Project Designer for Neolight, highlighted the need for the luminaires to function within “the revolving boxes, flying walls, folding proscenium arch and flown ceiling panels that transform the auditorium space”.

Bespoke remote controlled DR7 luminaires ideal for undulating ceiling

Neolight specified 189 DR7 luminaires for their ability to “remotely pinspot and locate the beam output of each fixture to the desired location from ground level without needing ceiling access to manually position them,” explained Thornton.

RCL worked closely with Neolight in the development of bespoke housings for the DR7 luminaires. The housings and mounting brackets were designed to suit the specific ceiling panels of the Opera House with their ability to move and rotate as the space is reconfigured.

The housings were conceived so that regardless of the angle of each panel within the undulating ceiling, the luminaire body always remains perpendicular to the floor space, allowing for precise and accurate remote positioning.

The remote control of the DR7s was crucial in meeting the cost-efficient objectives of the scheme. As the Opera House can focus the luminaire’s beam on the desired location without the expensive need for ladders, scaffolding, or mechanical lifts, and the associated risks with such methods, the DR7 is an economically-sound solution for the auditorium.

For even easier control of the lighting, Neolight also specified RCL’s iDirect app, allowing the Opera House team to quickly recall preset scenes, while still allowing individual control of each luminaire in pan, tilt, and dim level.

With the use of iDirect’s Light Plan feature, which offers a friendly user interface of a reflected ceiling plan with luminaires plotted to scale, it is simple for staff members to identify and control each fixture.

The complete lighting scheme for the Dubai Opera House from Neolight delivers the perfect accompaniment to Atkins’s structural basis, realizing the dhow concept for the exterior of the building while delivering a technically-advanced solution that affirms the ground-breaking transforming interior.

The finished scheme was recognized for its achievements in architectural lighting design at the 2016 Light Middle East Awards, where Neolight was awarded the Entertainment & Leisure Lighting Project of the Year award.

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