Sydney Opera House – Concert Hall Side Foyer Lighting Upgrade

The Sydney Opera House is one of the most prestigious buildings in the world, a leading performing arts venue with an iconic and unique building design. The lighting philosophy behind the Sydney Opera House aim to reinforce the unique identify of the building environment and architecture.

The lighting upgrade for the Concert Hall foyer is fundamental to the visitor’s experience to the iconic building. The lighting now enhances the architectural feature of the building and provides a comfortable and enjoyable environment for the visitors.

The project comprises of the upgrade of the lighting system within the Southern and Side Concert Hall foyers. There are two main components of the lighting upgrade project.


Replacement of existing lighting fixture with new LED lights

New LED Spot Light Fittings (172 fittings) and new LED Emergency Stair Lighting (202 Strip Light Fittings) replaced the existing lighting fixture at the original locations through out the foyers.  The new lighting system achieves the original appearance whilst improving the technical and aesthetical aspect of the visual outcome.

Installation of new LED lighting fixtures

New concealed LED strip lighting (130 fitting ranging from 12000mm to 300mm in length) were installed behind the existing timber cladded walls in the side foyers to enhance the overall lighting outcome and architectural aesthetic. New power cables, control cables and lighting support system were installed as part of the scope.

Project Features and Challenges:

  • Coordination with existing Services and Infrastructure
  • Day to day communication with the Sydney Opera House to ensure zero disruption to the theatre and tourist operations
  • Co-ordination and interface with the electrical services and existing lighting control systems.
  • Installation of screwed steel conduit through non-traditional building environments.
  • The cable reticulation and luminaire supporting structure was meticulously designed to be installed within the various and unique Opera House facades
  • Due to the specific project requirements of no disruption to the lighting system and avoiding daily performances, rehearsals and tour groups, extensive levels of strategic planning were essential in the successful completion of this project.
  • As with all performing art facilities, extra care is required to ensure lighting and all other performance equipment is left undisturbed for the duration of the works. Detailed surveys of the work areas were completed to gather site information to ensure appropriate planning of and staging of the project could occur.
  • As the construction activities were within the Concert Hall Foyer, working at height risk appropriate safety guidelines were followed throughout the project and overseen by our onsite supervisor and project manager.
  • Specialised rigging scaffolding was utilised to access the fourteen meter high southern foyer lighting upgrade works and this was completed over 4 consecutive nights.
  • As with all unique and heritage listed buildings, there are aspects of the installation that require design changes or retro-fitting to allow for the desired outcome. Ryan Wilks Pty Ltd developed the mounting method in consultation with the lighting supplier and the Sydney Opera House to ensure the final outcome will provide the best architectural aesthetic for all the various models and luminaire sizes.
  • The screwed steel conduit containment and Unistrut supporting structure layouts were designed to ensure not only minimum cable and conduit pathways but also hide this containment from public view.
  • Prototype lighting installation were complete to ensure that each lighting design and installation methodologies were not only structurally sound but that the lighting created the desired effect.
  • The new Foyer strip lighting baffles were designed to securely clip onto the luminaire, to reduce lighting spill into the foyer.
  • Ryan Wilks Pty Ltd designed and obtained client approval of a suspended Unistrut structure hung off custom made brackets which were fixed in between the wall panel spaces.
  • Ryan Wilks Pty Ltd assisted in the re-design of the spot down luminaire fitting to enable easy disconnection from the existing housing for maintenance purposes. This entailed ‘twist to unlock’ design and safety fall restraint lanyard.
  • Ryan Wilks Pty Ltd also assisted with the design and cutover strategies to best suit the Concert Hall’s busy schedule and the requirements of the lighting engineers.

The installation of these new and innovative LED lighting,  assists in the reduction of energy consumption. In addition, the new LED lighting is also connected to the Sydney Opera House intelligent lighting control system (C-Bus) which enables the clients to control the timing and switching of the new LED lighting and achieve energy saving and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The new LED lighting system not only enhances the overall lighting outcome and architectural aesthetic of the Sydney Opera House but also provided more adequate lighting to stairs. It also provides technical advantages over the existing system.

The new LED lighting will provide the Sydney Opera House a more energy efficient system which will reduce the cost for energy. The new LED lighting has a longer life span compared to the existing halogen fittings which means less maintenance will be required for the new lighting system.

The project was a complete success having being completed on time, on budget and to the standard of which the client expected Ryan Wilks Pty Ltd to deliver. We were extremely happy with the finished product and genuinely thrilled to be involved with it, from the initial process of estimating and pre-design right through to the on-site works and building of the job, Ryan Wilks Pty Ltd worked closely with Sydney Opera House to ensure all their needs where fulfilled.

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