Due to the high-tech nature of ADJ equipment, when it is installed as part of a venue’s lighting system it is often in modern buildings. Sometimes we hear about ADJ fixtures helping to give a new lease of life to older spaces, but it is not very often that such a venue is more than 300 years old! However, that was the case when the lighting system in Dublin’s historic The Church restaurant, bar and nightclub was recently upgraded.
Located in the heart of Dublin, Ireland, The Church has a rich history that dates back to the late 1600s when the parish of St. Mary’s was founded and work quickly began to build a church. Completed in 1702, St. Mary’s was the first galleried church in Ireland and a perfect example of classical church architecture. Over the following centuries it became central to the local community and was the location of many historic moments. Arthur Guinness, founder of the famous Guinness Brewery, married at the church in 1761 and John Wesley, founder of the Methodist movement, preached his first Irish sermon at the church in 1747.
Due to a falling Protestant population and change in the local area from residential to commercial use, St. Mary’s was finally forced to shut in 1986. The building was put to numerous uses over the next 20 years before it was purchased by publican John Keating in 1997 and underwent a major refurbishment until 2005 when it began trading as ‘John M. Keating’s’. Then, in 2007, new owners took on the legacy of this historic building developing it into a multi-purpose venue called The Church. Over the past ten years it has built up a solid reputation as a fine-dining destination as well as a café, bar, nightclub and event space.
Mark Fay, the owner of Dublin-based ADJ Dealer DJ Box, has a long relationship with the owners of The Church, which goes back more than two decades. This meant that when they wanted to upgrade their lighting system Mark was the first person they thought to contact. He visited the venue and discussed with management the various requirements for the building’s various areas before specifying a system base primarily around ADJ’s Pocket Series.
“There were a number of factors that led to the use of Pocket Series fixtures,” Mark explains. “The ceiling height downstairs is minimal and we needed to ensure we delivered a high impact value for money solution for our client. But, most importantly, it is a 300 year old building, so whatever we did couldn’t be intrusive. The lighting that we chose had to be discreet, compact and minimalist, but also effective, and the Pocket Series delivered the best bang for buck that we could ever have wished for.”
The Church’s Cellar Bar is located downstairs and operates as a late bar and nightclub at weekends as well as a multi-purpose event space during the week. While usually hosting DJs and live music at the weekend, it could feature poetry reading on a Monday, a table-based quiz on a Tuesday and a corporate event on a Wednesday. This meant the management wanted a more flexible system to replace the dated mirror-scanners that were previously installed.
Mark and his team specified and supplied three ADJ Inno Pocket Spot fixtures alongside three ADJ Inno Pocket Z4 zooming wash units. These were installed in three Spot/Wash pairs across the ceiling over the middle of the room’s dancefloor area, controlled using an ADJ WiFLY NE1. Although a relatively small rig, the setup is capable of filling the dancefloor with moving GOBO patterns and saturated color washes which bounce off the dancefloor to fill the whole space with a vibrant glow. The installation also satisfies the original brief of an unobtrusive and flexible system as the Z4s can be zoomed out to provide washes for illuminating performances or zoomed in to create tight mid-air beam effects.
“The aim was to install a system that could be used for both dancing at the weekends and static stage lighting mid-week,” Mark explains, “however, thanks to the Pocket Series fixtures and NE1 controller, we were able to go a step further. Every now and then, for a club night, they’ll have a percussionist or violin player who will perform alongside a DJ. So we’ve set up programs that allow the washes to be used to highlight the performer, while the spots are still giving dynamics to the dancefloor. So they can have two different things going on. It sounds quite complex, but it was massively cost-effect to do and way over performs its price-point. As an installation, the system looks like it was a lot more expensive and a lot more technical than it actually was. It’s very flexible and versatile.”
In addition to new lighting, the venue’s management also wanted a new sound system for The Cellar. For this Mark turned to ADJ’s audio brand American Audio, recommending four full-range 15” speaker cabinets from the Sense Series. These were positioned in each corner of the dancefloor, hung from the ceiling pointing in towards the dancers.
“The Cellar had a sound system installed that had been used for many years and had really taken a battering – it has definitely seen some good times!”, laughs Mark. “So we were also asked to install a new audio system. We needed something that would deliver good audio quality but without a massive price tag and the four American Audio Sense 15s really delivered just what was needed.”
The venue’s main space – which was the original church sanctuary – is a large two-story area designed around a big central island bar. It retains much of its original architecture and atmosphere – including a huge pipe organ – and is mainly used as a restaurant, although it transitions into a lounge bar vibe on Friday and Saturday evenings. For that reason a full-on lighting rig wasn’t appropriate, although management did want to integrate some entertainment lighting for use on weekend evenings.
“The main bar and restaurant is a large space that has a big vaulted ceiling that is hundreds of years old and very dramatic. The brief in there wasn’t to create a nightclub-feel, but they wanted to get some color up into the ceiling to let people know – from around 8 / 9pm – that something is happening, that the mood is changing. So the light treatments up there are more subtle. It’s all about slow movements, pastel washes and slow color fades. Whereas downstairs we used the zooms on the wash fixtures, and fast movements, to create energetic effects. So we used the same fixtures, but to meet two very different sets of requirements.”
In addition to illuminating the main ceiling, The Church had another very specific lighting requirement, as Mark explains: “The whole building is very historic, but there is one section in particular – which has timber-clad walls that are beautifully ornate – where the atmosphere of the building is very strong. But at night – because of the dark wood – this area effectively disappeared, so management wanted to do something to draw attention to the space. Our solution was to install ADJ Mega QA 38 par fixtures to up-light the wooden verticals, which worked out very well. They are primarily kept on amber, which compliments the dark-varnished timber really well, but we’ve also programmed in some nice color fades which link them in with the washes above the bar for weekend nights.”
For control of the main area’s lighting, Mark once again opted for an ADJ WiFLY NE1. These controllers proved ideal for this project both for their affordability and their user-intuitive operation, which means that the venue’s staff don’t need to be DMX experts in order to select and recall the various scenes and programs that the DJ Box team have setup. Another advantage of this particular controller that also provided particularly useful for this installation was its in-built WiFLY DMX transmitter, which is used to send control signals to two ADJ WiFLY Transceivers one located with the Inno Pocket Z4s on top of the bar and the other positioned next to the alcove illuminated by Mega QA Par38s.
“When management decided on the location for the controller, we quickly realized that running signal cables to the lights wouldn’t be practical – or even possible due to the listed status of the building. That led us down the route of wireless DMX, which presented its own challenges! We discovered that there were already more than twenty wireless networks in the building and during the installation we quickly found that there was interference on certain channels. But, thankfully, because we were able to change the channel on both the NE1 and WiFLY Transceivers, we were able to find a bit of space and the system has worked reliably ever since.”
Mark and the DJ Box team’s installation at The Church is a great example of how modern technology – and ADJ lighting specifically – can be used sympathetically to enhance, but not overpower, the original features and atmosphere of a historic building. The use of ADJ’s WiFLY system also highlights how problems posed by older buildings can be overcome to great effect using new technical solutions.
Junction of Mary St. & Jervis St.
Dublin 1, Ireland
ADJ Dealer & Installer:
DJ Box, Dublin, Ireland
Gear List (Lounge):
3 x ADJ Inno Pocket Spot
3 x ADJ Inno Pocket Z4
1 x ADJ WiFLY NE1
4 x American Audio Sense 15 Speaker
Gear List (Restaurant):
4 x ADJ Inno Pocket Z4
6 x ADJ Mega QA Par38
1 x ADJ WiFLY NE1
2 x ADJ WiFLY Transceiver