An instantly recognisable fixture of Bondi Beach, the Bondi Pavilion, has borne witness to the evolution and impact of this iconic Australian beach. Waverly Council has undertaken a project to upgrade and rejuvenate Bondi Pavilion which is a heritage site in its’ own right.

TZG was the consulting architect on the job. Dark House Productions handled the design for the theatre side of the project, while WSP was responsible for the audio-visual systems and how all the different end points would be connected. Buildcorp was the builder for the project and The P.A. People were appointed as the systems integrator after winning the tender process.

Justin Smith – Contracts Administrator, Buildcorp said of the relationship with The P.A. People; “I would place them in the top tier of contractors that we have worked with on this project. Ross Ford has been across – and often, ahead of – all relevant aspects of the integration and has accommodated the program all the way through.”

Ross Ford, project manager for The P.A. People, comments: “The two AV consultants worked under TZG; we worked with all three consultants on the various aspects of the project, the most important of which was its heritage listing – whereby we had to maintain the original building and its elements. This consideration dictated how the project was conceived and executed by all parties.”

Essentially, this was a ‘dismantle and rebuild’ approach rather than demolish and build anew. Across the site, the team had to ensure that the original fabric of the separate spaces was maintained. This meant that the original building materials – from the flooring to the timberwork – had to be kept intact, and elements such as murals and paintings had to be protected during the course of all works.

Buildcorp stated, “they have fully restored the Bondi Pavilion Community and Cultural Centre which has been an iconic landmark – publicly serving Sydney’s world-famous Bondi Beach for over 90 years”.

Bondi Pavilion AV installation


Ross Ford sheds light on how the integrator commenced: “We were provided with a fully compliant design and AV specification and we built according to that brief. We literally received a shopping list of equipment which we procured and integrated. We had the option to offer alternatives, which would obviously be assessed by the various AV consultants, though I would say that we probably supplied 98% of the project as per the original specifications, as those selections were deemed to be most appropriate.”

While the upgrade of Bondi Pavilion spans multiple spaces which include retail areas, recording studios, broadcast rooms and more – for the purpose of this exploration – we will be narrowing our focus to the main theatre, the Seagull Room, the High Tide room and smaller event spaces.

The main theatre has a 300-seat capacity and is the largest of the spaces at Bondi Pavilion. It is fitted with a 7.1 surround sound Martin Audio system. QSC amplifiers and a QSC Q-Sys Core 510 DSP server on the backend. An Allen & Heath Avantis console and microphones complete the audio system.

On the video side, we find two Panasonic 780 series 9,000 lumens (brightness) projectors with the appropriate lenses paired with a Screen Technics 275” front projection screen and a portable 147” Stumpfl rear-projection screen. Panasonic vision mixing as well as Panasonic broadcast cameras are also employed.

Control is provided via Crestron CP4 processor and two 10-in Crestron touch panels. The control system manages the AV set up, including the motorised screens.

An ETC-IONXE20-2K lighting console, LED and incandescent lights and LED cyclorama lights, form the lighting system.

Switching to the Seagull Room, it features a Panasonic 670 series projector and motorised projection screens. QSC 8-in ceiling speakers with Lab.Gruppen 8.2 amps provide audio and an Allen & Heath SQ5 portable mixer has also been provided.

The High Tide room has similar specifications but features Tannoy pendant speakers.

AV over IP has been extensively used site-wide at Bondi Pavilion for signal transmission. Ford says: “Because of the cable distances and the complexity of getting cables from one location to another, (including heritage site considerations mentioned), AV over IP was deemed as the best solution. Given the distances, it would have been problematic to use SDI. A majority of the end points, being plugged in using HDMI – an SDI solution would require a lot of signals to be converted. Also, the control of the projectors and motorised screens are IP based. So, standardising on one cable, Cat6a across the whole site, made terminations easier and was an effective choice. We also have the option to be able to send and route feeds anywhere across the whole facility and use any of the additional rooms for overflow.”

Three 48-port Netgear 4300 series network switches connected via 10Gb fibre backbone connections have been used to cover the site. Cat6a cabling is used in the rooms and spaces. Ford says: “For a site this complex, we needed it to be a Layer 3 switch with snooping – along with a several other requirements in order to maintain the integrity of the Crestron NVX system – and Netgear was the obvious choice.”

Dante was employed to provide a simple site-wide solution using standard Cat6a cabling for increased reliability and low latency. This assists audio transmission across the facility with AES being used in conjunction with Dante in the main theatre only. Crestron NVX encoders enable video transmission over IP.

While AV over IP solved a lot of problems, it was not a simple solution. Ford says: “I brought up NVX at the first meeting we had on site with the audio consultants, architects, and builders when we had just been awarded the contract. I had been going through the documentation and considering the fact that this was a heritage site I took it upon myself to make some dummy plywood samples of the NVX box which I took to the meeting to illustrate the footprint of the box so that everyone knew the size of the product. We couldn’t cut holes in the walls and the floors so we had to be clear upfront about how the encoders and decoders would be accommodated in the spaces.”

He continues: “Working with the architects, the builder and the consultants we came up with a few unique ways of fitting the NVX into the spaces. We have some larger patch boxes which house the NVX with a relatively short HDMI cable standardising the connections for the end user. The steel box has a removable cover so that the items can be serviced. And the boxes are vented and have built-in fans.”

Bondi Pavilion AV installation


The decision to go with projection is also an interesting one and Ford explains: “Projection lends itself to the spaces of Bondi Pavilion. The display does not have to be operational in the spaces at all times and the spaces are also multi-functional. So, an LED videowall would not necessarily work especially in the theatre where you have to be mindful of sightlines. And when we want to shift the spaces for a different kind of event, the LED would have to be dismantled. The flexibility of projection meant that we could avoid this, and the new laser projectors are easy to maintain and have good lifespans.”

On the 7.1 audio system in the main theatre Ford comments: “Technical Audio Group, the distributor for Martin Audio, did an audio plot which detailed the layout of the speaker locations within the theatre, and they came and did the final tweaking and testing of the system. The requirement for 7.1 audio came from the video format through the Blu-ray player being used which is providing 7.1 output and the vision desk can feed 7.1 format as well.”

Ross Ford concludes: “This was an interesting project where we battled Covid-19 challenges and supply shortages. For example, the original specification actually called for two Q-Sys Core 110 DSPs. One would be dedicated for the theatre and the other would be used for the outer rooms. But at the time of the project, QSC was having difficulties supplying the 110 DSPs – so we chose to go up to the 510 DSP to maintain the number of inputs and outputs, but also get a bit more horsepower on the DSP side of things. I think it has proven to actually be a better solution in practice. Thankfully we have been able to manage it through the course of the project by either upgrading or using our expertise to procure the equipment.”