Thursday, Apr 25, 2013

On the 6th of March, the IES Canberra branch were fortunate to have a backstage tour of the polarising Manuka Oval sports lighting installation. This new installation, which was jointly funded by the local and federal governments, allows the oval to stage televised sporting events. These sporting events include Cricket, Rugby League and Australian Rules Football.

Greg Sutton of Dialite introduced us to three other members of the team who made this installation possible: Ian Smith, the project architect from Cox Architecture, Mitch Halley, the installer from Affinity Electrical, and John Telford, lighting designer from Abacus Lighting

Ian started the presentation with an explanation of the unusual look of the towers. The forward lean of the towers allows the luminaires to get closer to the field. This increases the effectiveness of the lighting as though the tower were higher and reduces light spill outside the oval. By installing an external cable lift/cage, the tower diameter can be smaller. A smaller diameter shorter tower is less obtrusive on the skyline, and requires less material which reduces costs.


Additionally, they used a six tower configuration instead of the standard four to allow greater flexibility for the exact location of each tower and chose the unique lacrosse racket shape for aesthetic reasons. When we see this shape during a televised match, we will know instantly where the match is being held.


According to Mitch, the televisors are very happy with the result. The different stations have reported recording ‘excellent video’ during recent events. It has also been noted that there have been more catches during night matches at this oval when compared to other ovals.


Later, John was able to introduce us to more of the technical aspects of this particular installation and design. As the installation had a very short lead time, and the towers were manufactured in the UK, some of the smaller parts needed to be air freighted to site at great expense. The remaining parts were shipped, and the towers were then assembled on site. Each segment in the main tower body was designed to slip over the one below and be held there by gravity. 


The luminaires and associated wiring looms were fixed to their respective towers prior to the towers being installed in their final location. This was done using two cranes, one to lift and the other to support. The luminaires were individually aimed using GPS coordinates and a gun style sight after the installation of the towers. Each tower has its own concrete footing with the remote gear in enclosures on each side.


Ventilation was a very important factor in these enclosures considering there are 94 lights on each tower. The luminaires used come in four beam angles: wide, medium, narrow, extra narrow and use two types of louvres to reduce glare to the surrounding areas. The installation uses switching groups of lights to alter the lighting between the televised levels and training levels. 


John and the rest of the team are particularly proud that this was all possible with the significantly short lead time of 18 weeks.


After the presentation we were invited to witness the lighting from on the field. The field was so well lit that we all wished we’d brought a football to kick around. Manuka Oval is now likely to become a popular location for televised sporting events thanks to its exceptional sports lighting installation.


text : Scott Leslie-McCarthy