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March 2008


Now trading in its seventh year, Navan's Solar nightclub is owned by the Cusack Hotel Group - a family business started by John Cusack, and known for its continual re-investment across its estate.

In 2007, this re-investment policy included a total transformation of their leading nightclub Solar, annexed to the deluxe Newgrange Hotel in Navan. The upgrade was total - an architectural reconfiguration followed by a totally new interior concept by Frank Ennis Design Associates, as well as a new beer garden, a huge LED installation, and a cracking entertainment installation by one of Ireland’s hardest working installers: the indefatigable Audiotek.

The old club had tired considerably, explains GM Sandra Carney, and Solar had a reputation amongst the local crowd, as well as returning tourists, to maintain.

“We’re the biggest club in County Meath, and have always had a loyal following in Navan, which only has two other nightclubs. The local professionals have always needed a place to hang out, and we offer a brilliant set of weekend nights that are based on mainstream tastes. But to make it work we had to create something that would compete not with local businesses, but on a national level.”

The many architectural changes to the space have made it virtually unrecognisable. The concept, devised by designers and architects Frank Ennis, was to create from a single 1,000 capacity venue seven separate areas (with six bars) over two floors, and to ease the operation of the venue by maximising circulation and ensuring an equal spread of footfall (where previously, punters had crowded the upstairs gallery). The whole space is dominated by the huge sci-fi walkway that stretches across the gallery areas, and is designed to draw crowds into the club, explains Frank Ennis associate Darren McNamaray.

“We began work on the venue by opening up the space, introducing new connections between the two levels of the nightclub and opening up the visual lines between the dancefloor and gallery. The idea was to make the club both intimate while maintaining a wow factor: in other words, it would look busy on a quiet night, and it would look intimate on a busy night.”

Since Ireland’s smoking ban, the roof garden has become one of the key battlegrounds of inter-club competition. Here, Solar really delivers. The new two-floor roof garden offers capacity for 150 punters, and features a dedicated bar and luxury furnishings all in the shade of a beautiful olive tree. At night, ambient lighting and the various heaters give the beer garden a picturesque feel, while a new staircase links the two levels, and a glass-balustraded balcony overlooks the ground floor.

Also key to the design was the huge installation of LED ambient lighting from EL&D Ltd, including over 400 pieces of Traxon LED modules and a complicated network of DMX universes controlled by a Chauvet LED-EQCON and various butler units. The Traxon fixtures have been arranged in various positions to hammer home the venue’s futuristic feel: stretched around the walls of the gallery and seating areas, used as backlighting for each of the bars and the smoking terrace, and lining the balustrades and staircases that link the disparate areas together. They also uplight the toughened glass panels of the club’s central walkway, while a beautiful fibre-optic chandelier presides over the main bar.

And while the ambient lighting adds beauty, the Audiotek club install adds massive impact.
Mounted on the main circular bulkhead built into the ceiling of the club - as well as on the underside of the walkway and gallery - a lighting rig of typical intensity and punch has been specified.

A total of twelve Pearl River 250s and 16 MTS 250 scans provide the bulk of the entertainment lighting, and are supported by eight Pearl River 150s, eight Martin Mania 800s and four 700s. Additional excitement has been added via four Martin Atomic Strobes and a bank of four Cirrus Lasers. The lighting spec is controlled by a Martin Lightjockey.

The audio installation was based around Turbosound speakers - including six Turbosound NU Q15s, four Turbosound TQ 425s and 12 Turbosound TCS 081 off floor cabinets - and powered through a mix of T45 and T25 amps. With all the headaches of organising a busy team of contractors, Audiotek’s professionalism prevented a lot of headaches for the operators, says Sandra Carney.

“Audiotek were great, they really do have a 24 hour service and can be called on at any time for any job. Director Frank Murray came up with an installation that really contributed to the design of the venue, managing to install a lot of lighting and sound into a relatively small space - our light jockey is thrilled with the result.”

The final venue is a no-nonsense, mainstream club that will be sure to delight the local crowds with its blend of futuristic design, heavy-weight technology and beautiful smoking terrace.





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