As part of their ongoing commitment to improving visitor experience, The O2 decided it was time to bring the Portal back online, and contacted NoiseBoys following our successful lighting of the Up at The O2 rooftop walkway.
The entranceway Portal was installed as part of the redevelopment of The O2 in 2007. The bespoke structure consists of six 9 metre diameter hoops; four external, two internal, all linked with 24 braces or rib sections. In order to enter or exit the venue by its main entrance, visitors must walk through or past the Portal. The hoops had previously been illuminated with blue LED rope light and the ribs with an early form of LED tube, but all had failed over the years due to weathering and water ingress. Many staff couldn’t recall them ever working! As the first thing that visitors see when approaching the iconic venue, and as one of the most Instagrammed spots in London, we were presented with the opportunity to create a more impressive experience.
In one sense, this was a more simple project than the walkway; firstly, it was on the ground! Secondly, there was no need to reinvent the wheel (or Portal), and it was agreed that the lighting would be replaced like-for-like, but with modern, brighter, more robust and versatile fixtures capable of producing a full spectrum of colour, and fully pixel-mapped to create exciting chases and effects.
That’s not to say there weren’t challenges to overcome. The original structure was fabricated off-site and then installed in modular sections, allowing for cabling and connectors to be concealed within the internal metalwork as it was pieced together. NoiseBoys was tasked with surgically transplanting the failed cabling with new, without disassembling large sections which would have been impractical, and in many instances not possible, as most of the nuts and bolts had spent over fifteen years exposed to the elements.
As this was an entirely unique structure there were no “off-the-shelf” products fit for the job. Working with UK manufacturer, Abstract AVR, NoiseBoys oversaw the design and manufacture of custom luminaires, made to measure for the various segments of the Portal. For the hoops we used a very high brightness LED pixel-mappable, IP-rated tape product, with a custom-fit diffuser, made by AVR. This gives a sweeping circular effect all the way around each hoop. For the ribs, we used a completely custom IP tube that is UV resistant and watertight, yet still high brightness and pixel-mapped to allow for playing of effects in 3D space. All of the LED products are bright enough to be viewed during the day, yet custom and totally sealed to the elements.
For control we employed again the excellent e:Cue system by Traxon Technologies. Running 31 Artnet universes across the structure to power over 13,000 LEDs, the customised GUI front end runs on the in-house network and allows simple control for The O2 staff from a PC or browser.
The final challenge was the Portal’s location - as the main entrance to one of the busiest entertainment, leisure and retail complexes in the world, foot traffic around the worksite was both heavy and constant, necessitating careful coordination with The O2’s Management, Security and Building Service teams to ensure minimal disruption to visitors, and that strict health and safety measures were maintained at all times.
With clever design, creativity and a meticulous eye for detail, NoiseBoys were able to transform these unremarkable grey hoops into a magical gateway that now transports millions of visitors to a world of entertainment within.