The first specialist centre for autism in the Middle East, the Kuwait Center for Autism last year took the decision to refurbish its theatre, until then used solely for internal purposes, in order to host independent productions and so act as a revenue stream for the Center.
Although only five years old, the theatre had limited amenities and required a major upgrade to tempt the music, theatre, drama and conference productions, from both Kuwait and the rest of the world, that the directors hoped for.
Dubai-based Unusual Rigging & Engineering was contracted by the project’s integrators, Solutech, to design and build a grid that would provide the infrastructure for an excellent lighting system plus the drapes, borders and legs which have been supplied by ShowTex Middle East.
Although lighting existed, Leon Ingram, project manager at Unusual Rigging, realised that a completely new grid was required to provide not just for the client’s immediate requirements, but also enable the owners to continually enhance the theatre as funds became available.
Measuring 13.2 by 6.2 metres, the grid was designed with a frame of I beams, part ground support and part bolted into the concrete roof beams.
Limited access meant that every single item for the grid needed loading in by hand - including 6-metre lengths of steelwork weighing up to 300 kilogrames each. Once in the flytower, limited space required careful planning of the load-in.
The seven tonnes of steelwork required for the grid was fabricated in Dubai and delivered to Unusual Rigging’s warehouse, where the riggers pre-built the entire grid, including the 17 12-metre flybars. This both highlighted corrections that were required to the steelwork before shipping to Kuwait, and also facilitated sequential numbering of each piece. This enabled Leon to plan the get-in, whereby components were loaded in reverse order to the build sequence ie, the first item to be used was the last to be loaded in.
The entire project took six months, with Unusual Rigging on site for a week to complete the installation. Although the theatre was not handed over to the client until June, an opening ceremony took place in January attended by His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, the Deputy Prime Minister, as well as leading dignitaries from the Middle East, Europe and the United States.
Jamal Al Shalabi, Partner, BDM, and Thamer Salahi, general manager of Solutech, said: “We are delighted with the work carried out by Unusual - it has surpassed all our expectations.”