Theatreplan involved in Esplanade upgrade


Theatreplan, a theatre consultancy, is contributing its technical knowledge to the upgrade of cabling infrastructure at Esplanade – Theatres on the Bay in Singapore from an analogue tie-lines system to a digital IP-based network, to serve sound, video, communications and lighting across all venues, plus new facilities for digital media.

Opened in 2002, Esplanade is a major centre for the performing arts, located at Marina Bay, on the bank of the Singapore River. The centre consists of a concert hall for 1,600 people, a 1,950-capacity theatre, a recital studio for 245 people, and a theatre studio accommodating up to 220.

Having been appointed in 2019, Theatreplan’s work has continued throughout the pandemic. The scope of work includes a feasibility study, a detailed site survey, technical design recommendations and development of all venues, and delivery of tender documentation.

An exterior BIM model. Image: Theatreplan

The first part of the project involved surveying the venues to identify and document what was already there. The importance of fully understanding the way the venue operated and what it needed for the future meant Theatreplan had to focus in-depth on all systems that supported the venues and staff. In response to the travel restrictions imposed by COVID-19, a sub-contractor was appointed locally to provide information from the site, including measurements and infrastructure route mapping between venues. The full survey was completed at the end of January 2022.

Prior to the travel restrictions, the team was able to conduct face-to-face interviews with a wide cohort of technical staff to fully inform the creation of the technical masterplan. Theatreplan has recommended the upgrade of Esplanade’s 20-year-old analogue AV infrastructure to a new digital AV infrastructure, in addition to upgrades to the sound, video and communications and broadcast systems, together with the production, house and working lights systems and fixtures. This is to ensure the venue continues to be on the cutting-edge of entertainment technology, safeguarding its flexibility, and providing a path to adopt future technologies.

As Theatreplan began surveying the existing technical infrastructure, it quickly became apparent that the best way to capture all the information was to build a 3D model in Revit, which detailed all theatre technical systems throughout the entire centre and public spaces. Initially this was to be used to qualify and quantify the existing installed systems and then subsequently to incorporate the newly designed systems, so as to provide a single source of truth for the tendering process, and post completion, to ensure an accurate record of the final installed technical systems.

Section-theatre containment. Image: Theatreplan

The scope of works was extended by the client to include the building of the Revit model, based on documentation provided by them. Theatreplan’s team of architects built the model from the horizontal structures up, adding in floors and dividing up into the different venues. They then added in the technical services, containment, production facility panels for all lighting, sound, video and communications, so that every wire way is modelled throughout the building. The model is now complete and supports the ongoing technical design work.

“This technical journey with Theatreplan has been an ambitious one with its large scope of work,” said Kenny Wong, head, technical production, The Esplanade Co Ltd. “Even as Esplanade turns 20 this year, we were still able to make many discoveries in our venues through the Revit model which can help us make better-informed decisions in the revamp of our technical infrastructure. We are grateful to the professionalism of the Theatreplan team who has worked closely with our team at Esplanade to keep to the project timelines and requirements despite the challenges faced during this pandemic.”

The Revit model can also be utilised for other operational systems such as fire services and telecoms, to provide the client with a comprehensive source of truth for the site. There is also an option to use gaming software to enable a virtual walk-through of the venues.

The Esplanade exterior. Image: Hector Christiaen –

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Izzy became editor of Auditoria magazine in 2018, having previously served as assistant editor on the title earlier in her career. She is also the editor of Business Jet Interiors International, Railway Interiors International and new launch Cruise Liner Interiors International. Over the course of a decade as a business-to-business magazine editor, Izzy has covered everything from airline catering to car safety technologies, autonomous vehicles and business aviation airports. Outside of work, Izzy loves watercolour painting, live music and travel.

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