Opera House Forecourt shines in a new light using ERCO LED technology

Gracefully standing on Bennelong Point, the Sydney Opera House serves as a multi -venue performance art centre for Sydneysiders and is a major attraction for visitors. One of the main performance spaces of this expressionist design structure is the Opera House Forecourt.

Set right below the white sails and stretching all the way towards the Circular Quay Promenade, the Forecourt offers the largest capacity of any Opera House venue and is one of the world’s most spectacular outdoor performance spaces. While striking during the day, the Opera House Forecourt is awoken with brilliant illumination once the sun sets.

The Forecourt was not always this vividly illuminated. Previously, this space was only lit by three aged floodlights installed on the shells of the Opera House, and by a series of post – tops running along the Forecourt domain. The previous illumination of the forecourt from these sources, was extremely low, culminating in a dark overall appearance. In order for this space to reach its potential of being a multi performance venue, highly effective illumination was very much needed.

In March, 2015 the lighting design team from NDYLIGHT, in collaboration with Scott Carver architects and SOH adviser Jon Utzon, produced the lighting concept for this domain. The lighting designers raised very ambitious and challenging lighting goals, such as precision, visual comfort, flexibility, efficiency, low maintenance, and creating lighting solution for the entire space whilst visually emphasizing the link to Bennelong Promenade. In addition, the scheme had to work with large throw distances.

To meet the significant challenges posed by the lighting concept of the Forecourt, ERCO lighting tools were selected. The responsibility fell on the versatile ERCO Kona Projector that could achieve all the above listed objectives.

It was essential to accentuate the Forecourt area creating a visual link between Bennelong Point, the Opera House Forecourt and Circular Quay Promenade using light to guide passers-by towards the Opera House. The high performance, precision optics of ERCO Kona Projectors and the effective tertiary lens system successfully solved this challenge. A combination of 72W and 32W Kona Projectors in 3000K using spot, narrow spot and flood lenses were installed on the 30 metre poles, directed in different directions in order to cover the entire domain area. Kona offers a wide range of light distributions and power for great distances. Another challenge faced by the lighting designers was to avoid light spill into the windows of Bennelong restaurant interrupting the visual comfort of the diners. High performance, precision optics with a good cut off angle from Kona Projectors helped to successfully achieve this.

Low maintenance was an absolute must. Kona’s round tapered housing ensures maximum visual comfort with excellent glare control, also maintenance – the optoelectronics are designed for long life and help reduce the operating costs. Kona also offers a weather-resistant housing on a rotatable and tiltable mounting plate that can be aligned precisely. An extensive range of mounting hardware means that the luminaire can be installed effortlessly in different outdoor applications. For this project, Kona was mounted to a custom spigot detail.

The Opera House Forecourt is an extremely important project for ERCO as it demonstrates how such challenging lighting design objectives – a uniform illumination, superior glare control, emphasis on the centre of the Forecourt creating a visual link for this area, minimum maintenance and large distances – can be solved with ERCO lighting tools. The extraordinary quality of the luminaire is evident.

Steve Brown, the Design Director, NDYLIGHT – “A project of this stature required a great looking luminaire with extremely precise optics; and we are glad that the Kona met those demands”.

ERCO illumination has undoubtedly contributed to the popularity and flexibility of this spectacular outdoor space, encouraging millions of Sydneysiders and visitors to this iconic area.

Kona Information

Project: Opera House Forecourt / Australia
Photographer: Jackie Chan, Sydney / Australia
Lighting Design: NDYLIGHT
Architect: Scott Carver
Products: Kona Projector
Photo credits: © ERCO GmbH, www.erco.com, Photo: Jackie Chan

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