3000 green bottles hanging from the ceiling

Made up of 3000 Jameson Whiskey bottles, NYD and Alumina lighting has created a truly iconic ceiling at Dublin’s 3Arena...

A new lighting scheme at the 3Arena in Dublin is turning heads up rather than around. Conceived by NYD (Nine Yards Design) with the lighting element brought to life by Alumina Lighting, the ceiling features 3000 hanging Jameson Whiskey bottles, a technical feat that was achieved by both talented team at NYD and Alumina Lighting. The brief from IDL was to create an innovative installation, out of Jameson bottles, that would resemble a giant TV screen. To further complicate the brief, every single bottle had to be controlled individually.

Alumina Lighting is no stranger to complex, technically difficult briefs. The firm has completed several complicated lighting installations across the country, including the Titanic in Belfast.

“With that particular project, no-one else had the expertise to configure the colour change feature without adding extra cables, but we were well able to do it,” said Dave O’Reilly at Alumina Lighting.

The ceiling in the 3Arena, which is now referred to as the iconic ‘soundwave’, was a feat of technical excellence on the part of NYD and Alumina Lighting.

“NYD came up with the concept but needed Alumina Lighting to ensure that the right type of lighting and light control was used. We were approached and came up with the idea of placing an individual lensed LED into each bottle. Each bottle was attached to a threaded bar which in turn was attached to a lighting truss. The cable of each light was then threaded through the threaded bar and placed inside the bottle. Each bottle also had silicon sprayed inside to give a sandy effect which would defuse the light from the 1.2 watt lensed LED contained in each bottle.”

In addition to following the brief specified by NYD, Alumina added their own special touches.

“We covered the actual LED with a shroud so the light wouldn’t escape into the other bottles. We also needed to control the weight of each bottle; it was up to us to map that out properly.”

The bottles had to be broken up into equal amounts so the computer could inform the programme exactly what way it needed to be set out on a screen so it would resemble a TV.

Dave O’Reilly was instrumental in the programming and flash testing of the MADRIX system used to control the iconic soundwave. This involved separating the lights into grids, creating a wiring schedule and working out the number of control panels needed to make the system easy to use. Dave worked closely with Michael Durkin of NYD to deliver the client’s wish list.

“Madrix software, which is a German-based system, was used to control the whole thing.

“I’ve used it before so was familiar with how it works. Using this software was the most cost-effective and future- proofing way of achieving what we needed. If the client wants to add another layer of bottles to the installation in the future, that will be no problem. The fact that it’s a plug and play system means it’s ready to go.”

A delay with the manufacturers meant all work had to be carried out by NYD and Alumina Lighting within a four day period to meet the client deadline.

“Elton John was playing on the Thursday so we had to have it up and running by the Wednesday. To say it was a little bit stressful is an understatement! This was the June Bank Holiday weekend so we knuckled down and got it done.”

It took a team of 10 electricians three days to install the lights into all 3000 bottles, leaving Dave with just one day to ensure the scheme was completed on time. At this stage the installation, which was in sections, looked like a jigsaw puzzle.

“Every bottle had to be numbered and clearly labelled as to where it should go and what it did. The controllers for each LED also had to be numbered.”

As the 3Arena is a listed building, no fixing into walls was permitted.

“We weren’t able to drill into walls. The bottles were hung using only chemical or hanging methods. An experienced rigging team from NYD installed the cassettes.”

“I think this project is a testament to all the hard work put in by the teams at NYD and Alumina Lighting and I hope that the customer will replicate it for future projects,” said Brian Templeton at Alumina Lighting.

Alumina Lighting, Unit 21, Redleaf Business Park, Turvey, Donabate, Co Dublin
T: 00353 (0)1 807 5044
W: www.aluminalighting.ie