Portsmouth University in England recently built a brand-new student union center. This £6.5 million project is the first University new build of the 21st century, the result of a plan initiated in 1997. It holds up to 2,500 people, and features several spaces including a 1,200-capacity nightclub called Lux, a bar, sports bar, coffee shop, and other social areas.

Technical design and installation company Chris Gunton & Associates Ltd (CGA) won the bid (offered by interior designers GMP) for the lighting, sound, and AV installation for three areas of the building and the reception. Once the contract was secured, Gunton turned to Lightfactor Sales to supply the lighting equipment. "I've worked with Lightfactor many times in the past; I know the service I can expect," Gunton says. The project was managed for Lightfactor by Peter Coles.

The Student Centre's technical manager Richard Carpenter was consulted by CGA's team throughout the site design, installation, and commissioning period. Timescale and budget were both tight, but the most challenging element for CGA was flying the Lux rig at the required height while maintaining the integrity of the room's soundproofing. To this end, fixings to walls and ceilings were kept to an absolute minimum.

The main room ceiling height is 8m--above-average headroom for a club. Lightfactor supplied the custom-designed Prolyte X30D trussing superstructure, arranged in an elegant curved W shape snaking along the ceiling, finished in white to match the room. Lightfactor also supplied three Verlinde motors to CGA so the lighting rig could be flown in and out for easy maintenance.

The lighting system is designed for maximum impact at night and minimum impact during daytime open hours. The white look reduces distractions from the room's internal decor, and the rig is also flexible and upgradeable for the future. Gunton chose SGM Giotto 400 fixtures in white as the core moving lights of the rig. To these he added six SGM Galileo IV 1200 scanners and two SGM Flasher 1.5 strobes also in white. The SGM fixtures are used for all the rig's effects.

"I chose SGM because I wanted a bright, reliable fixture," Gunton comments, adding that the Giotto Spot 400's frost filter saved them from having to specify additional wash fixtures, helping to stretch the budget. During daytime, four Philips White SON floods on the main lighting rig are used to flood the dance floor with evenly balanced light, allowing it to be used for other leisure activities.

Lightfactor supplied a LightProcessor QCommander lighting desk for controlling Lux's effects lights, located in the DJ booth. A key feature for selecting this desk was the lock out, allowing programs to be saved and stored in a tamper-proof environment. Its simple and easy live operation is also ideal for the application.