ProjectKOKOLocationLondon, UKArchitectArcher HumphryesInstallerJ & C Joel LtdAcousticianVanguardiaSubmitted byJ & C Joel Ltd

We designed, manufactured and installed a custom designed contour house curtain at 9000mm wide x 9000mm drop manufactured with 100% fullness from our angel flame Queen Velour. The curtain had a custom decorative fawn regal satin applique detail inspired by the existing architecture of the building.

We also designed, manufactured and installed a custom 500mm box truss with 8no integrated Wahlberg 50 winches from which the house curtain was hung. The winch system was designed to deal with a lack of wing space and flying height. The system allows the house curtain to be stored behind the custom Pelmet (with matching applique detail) that we also supplied. The system will also allow several creative curtain openings to be performed. To effect these openings, we also provided a mobile touch screen control system with inbuilt cue capability.

In addition to the decorative house curtain and pelmet, we also provided a pair of tracked gold Firecracker Velour drapes with a matching swaged pelmet. This set of drapes will sit on the downstage edge of the stage facing inwards and will be used for intimate “Fly Tower” shows when the auditorium is empty and the audience watch the performance from the side of stage viewing galleries.

We also supplied custom swags to sit between the existing air con vents as well as custom printed vent covers.

We also provided over 100m of acoustic perimeter drapery and Triple E UniBeam tracks to support the other acoustic treatments in the building. The mezzanine level drapes were lined back to back with gold Firecracker Velour to provide the VIP areas with extra panache.

We also provided a full set of stage blacks comprising 4no borders, 4no pairs of legs, handrail drapes, and custom truss leg covers. In addition, we installed a manual pulley system to raise and lower a backdrop bar for touring backdrops.

Finally we supplied and installed a 6200mm wide x 5000mm drop roller front projection screen.

The main challenges with this project were agreeing the scope of the package in light of the ever-evolving requirements of the venue, the design of the decorative elements and the timescale for installation.

Scope – the scale of the refurbishment was incredible. Our package is perhaps the most visible but it was also the final element to be installed and as such it was subject to late changes as other elements were agreed.

We dealt with this, as we do with all of our projects, with clear and strong communication with our client, keeping our specification documents and drawings up to date and ensuring we built in manufacturing capacity for said late changes.

Design of decorative elements – the decorative house curtain and pelmet is one of the most visible elements of the whole project, so it was critical that we got every element of it right.

We achieved this by a combination of sampling, 2D and 3D CAD drawings and moving renders. This unparallel offering allowed our client to visualise how the curtains would look in the venues as well as how the fabric would move and behave with the winch system.

Installation Time – our installation plan was initially to be in two parts. However, due to delays beyond our control, we had a much-condensed timetable on site. Also, whilst on site, there were multiple contractors working in a very tight space which made for a challenging environment.

We overcame this lack of time by good planning, increasing our team on site, working cooperatively with the other contractors and ultimately working until the job was done. As with most jobs in our industry, the deadline was fixed. This was no different at KOKO with 29 April being opening night with Arcade Fire being the first band to play at the refurbished venue.

We believe a non-technology driven solution would help your readers gain an appreciation for another type of service provider to the industry.

In the 43 years since the company was formed, we have worked in the most prestigious venues in the world, helping create amazing environments that compliment the many other service providers, particularly lighting and sound. We believe it would be a bold decision to recognise that we play an important but perhaps secondary role.

That being said, whilst it was not technology led, we did combine traditional hand-crafted drapery with cutting edge CAD drawing and rendering. We also supplied industry leading winches and control.

As the venue only opened on 29 April, we have a lack of complete images. These will be readily available from KOKO’s webiste and LinkedIn in the coming weeks.