Af Jens Walther, 30. januar 2019

Effective and artistic ceiling light

Østre Gasværk Theater at Østerbro in Copenhagen has functioned as a theater hall since 1979 and is one of the iconic buildings in Denmark. However, it was built for a completely different purpose - as a gasoline tank. Therefore, the entire roof construction was designed to be able to be "jumped off" if an accident occurred with the gas. The roof structure has been impossible to hang anything from. To use it as a theater hall, an elaborate interior rig was designed that had no grip on the ceiling, but stood on the floor. For many years that is what held lights, sound and other technology.

Until now. A new redesign instead uses a steel structure that is attached to the columns in the building to support the ceiling. This construction can hold 40 tons, so it offers completely different possibilities for theater production and suspension of equipment. In connection with the large refurbishment, it was also decided to change and improve the public and work lights that existed in the theater. For the job, Brother, Brother & Sons (BB&S) was hired to both supply the lamps and the system that would mount them. Therefore, ProAV Magazine met with Peter Plesner from BB&S in Østre Gasværk to talk about the task and to experience the new lighting in the theater hall.


Lys Oestre Gasvaerk

The task required new development

BB&S was contacted at the beginning of 2018 by the theater in order to solve that task. Firstly, an illumination of the entire hall and the floor area was required; a lighting that was both comfortable to work in and which could also serve as an audience light before and after the theater performance. The task also included lighting the building itself, both the ceiling and the walls. Peter Plesner says:

“I am very grateful to have been called upon to light this very nice building. Everything is nice to light. Early in the process we tried out some lamps in collaboration with Frank Beck and Brian Njie from Østre Gasværk, based on their great experience with light in general and in particular with this room. However, I couldn't find the right lamp for the purpose, so I chose as a lamp manufacturer to develop a brand new lamp. The luminaire needed to be small so as to not be so visible in the hall. Yet it had to be powerful with a very narrow beam. Often when lamps have a very narrow beam, there is also a lot of waste light. Of course we did not want that, so we developed optics at BB&S which collects 95% of the light coming out of the LED chip.”

From the theater side, there was a minimum requirement of 450 lux on the 1600 square foot floor, and it is met in ample measure. The newly developed fixture is called the BB&S CBL-1 (Compact Beam Light 1), and Peter could see that it could easily be used in many other contexts; it was the missing link in the BB&S range. The lamp is compact, 16 cm long and 14 cm wide. The lighting unit in the lamp is a 40W LED and there is no forced cooling. It illuminates with white light of up to 4000 lumens and can be selected from four different fixed color temperatures: 2700, 3000, 4000 and 5600 Kelvin and four different light beam scattering angles. Color rendering is high with a CRI value of 97.

The new lamps are rigged up in rings in the gasworks ceiling. The inner ring has 16, then 32, 64, 96 and then 128 lamps in the outer ring, so that about 330 lamps illuminate the theater floor from different heights, where the greatest height is 22 meters. However, there is more; on each column are four lamps that illuminate the column, and also a number of lamps all around the crown, which illuminate the ceiling. Different color temperatures have been selected for the specific lamps. 

According to Peter: “We have used different caliper and spreading angles in the suspension. The lamps that mark the columns have a warm light of 2700 Kelvin and a narrow light cone. The same Kelvin applies to the ceiling lighting, which has a wider light beam of 18 degrees, while all the downward working light is 3000 Kelvin. We do this because if it is too hot a light, then it is uncomfortable to work in."

Colored walls

They also wanted to illuminate the walls of the theater. They are iconic, bricked rings, and each section of the wall between two columns is divided into an upper and a lower field. Here, the task has been somewhat different from the ceiling lighting, because it is largely about a decorative effect with the possibility of using colored lights on the walls. Here, BB&S has chosen to use a lamp that was already in the range. Their double Pipeline Reflect was created for this task. The double luminaire is available in many different lengths, but here there are 2.5 meter luminaires, three in each field, which means that 600 meters of lamps are installed all the way around the building. Each luminaire has warm and cold white light and RGB colors, and the two luminaires in each panel can be individually controlled. At Østre Gasværk Theater, this means that one armature reaches half of the wall field, while the other fixture reaches further down and covers the lower part of the field. In this way, it is also possible to control how and how far down the field should be illuminated. Because there is control of each field on the walls, it is very likely that the wall lighting will also be included as stage and effect light in the theater performances.


Den nye Loftbelysning i Ostre Gasvaerk 2



In total, BB&S has installed 496 CBL1 and 600 meters of Pipeline Reflect fixtures in the theater, and there is actually control over each lamp via the theater's lighting desk. At the theater there are also touch panels, where different pressure can control the ceiling lighting cleaning lights, work lights, audience lights, etc. Each lamp is controlled by DMX and RDM. Peter Plesner says:

“The control is in the theater's internal control, and the front of house lights use about 1800 DMX channels. It may sound like a lot, but today it's nothing. A single moving light can quickly use 35 channels away, so you get off quickly with DMX channels in modern productions.”

Job well done

Generally, the ceiling light is approx. at 50% when working in the hall. When you walk around the stands and on the stage floor, the new ceiling lighting gives a comfortable work light. Lighting the ceiling has also meant that it is much easier to look up at the rigging without being dazzled by a very strong and concentrated work light. Suspension points and the like can be spotted very quickly, precisely because the light has been spread so beautifully over many light sources.

Peter Plesner from BB&S concludes: “I think it has been fun to make and develop, and it has been a good collaboration. I love the result, and I also sense that the theater is shown in its best light!! ”

Brian Njie is a lighting master at the theater, and he has the following comment on the new ceiling lighting: ”We have never had so much and so good light here in the theater. Also, it does not blind you when working. It is fantastic."

The article is from ProAV Magazine - December 2018

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